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JOSEF ALBERS 




i ! %I 



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in 2012 with funding from 

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Library and Archives 



http://www.archive.org/details/josefalbersretroOOalbe 



JOSEFALBERSrA Retrospective 




Albers in his Bauhaus studio, Dessau, 19J 
Photo by Umbo 



JOSEF ALBERS 



A Retrospective 



Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 



This exhibition has received grants from BASF Corporation and the Federal Republic of Germany. 



Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 
Albers, Josef. 

Josef Albers: a retrospective/Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. 

p. cm. 

Text by Nicholas Fox Weber et al. 

Catalog of an exhibition held at Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1988. 

Bibliography: p. 293 

Paper ISBN 0-89207-067-6 

Cloth ISBN 0-8109-1876-5 

i. Albers, Josef-Exhibitions. I. Weber, Nicholas Fox, 1947- 

II. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. III. Title. 
N6888.A5A4 1988 709'.z'4-dci9 87-36930 



Published by The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, 1988 
Copyright © 1988 by The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York 
"Josef Albers" by Jean Arp published by permission of Fondation Arp, Clamart 

Cover: cat. no. 190, Variant: hum Reds Around Blue. 1948. Private Collection 



for Anni Albers 



Lenders to the Exhibition 



Anni Albers 

Bill Bass, Chicago 

Ernst Beyeler, Basel 

Mr. and Mrs. James H.Clark, Jr., Dallas 

Esther M. Cole 

Theodore and Barbara Dreier 

Mr. and Mrs. Lee V. Eastman 

Mr. and Mrs. Paul M. Hirschland, 
New York 

Maria and Conrad Janis, Beverly Hills 

Donald and Barbara Jonas 

Don Page, New York 

Maximilian Schell 

Hannelore B. Schulhof, New York 



Mark Simon, Connecticut 
Andrea and John Weil, Saskatoon 
Martina and Michael Yamin 



Addison Gallery' of American Art, 
Phillips Academy, Andover, 
Massachusetts 

The Josef Albers Foundation 

Josef Albers Museum, Bottrop, 
W. Germany 

Australian National Gallery, Canberra 

Bauhaus-Archiv, W. Berlin 

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 
New York 

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture 
Garden, Smithsonian Institution, 
Washington, D.C. 



Hollins College, Roanoke, Virginia 



Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 
Humlebxk, Denmark 



The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 
New York 



Musee National dArt Moderne, Centre 
Georges Pompidou, Paris 



The Museum of Modern An, New York 
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art 



Staatliche Museen Preussischer 
Kulturbesitz, Nationalgalerie, Berlin 



Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford 
Yale University Art Gallery, New Ha 



Ex Libris, New York 
Prakapas Gallery, New York 



Table of Contents 



Juergen F. Strube 



Sponsor's Statement 



Diane WalJman 



Preface and Acknowledgments 



Nicholas Fox Weber 



The Artist as Alchemist 



Mary Emma Harris 50 Josef Albers: Art Education at Black Mountain College 



Charles E. Rickar 



s8 A Structural Analysis of Sonic of Albcrs's Work 



Neal Benezra 



64 New Challenges Beyond the Studio: The Murals and Sculpture of Josef Albers 



Catalogue 



187 Chronology 



293 Selected Bibliography 



197 Selected Exhibitions and Reviews 



Photographic Credits 



[OSEF ALBERS 

The beautiful pictures of our ugly age should be scot and read 

with the eyes of a child. 

The pictures ofAlbers are not only a treat for the eye but they also 

convey meaning. 

They grow in profundity as they are looked at with eyes 

uncorrupted, and grasped penetratingly. 

They are like the wood into which one calls and from which it echoes 

as you are called. 

Like nature they are a mirror. 

Each of his pictures has a heart. 

They never break into bits, crumble, turn into dust. 

The are not castigated lashes. 

They have a clear and great content: 

Here 1 stand. 

I am resting. 

I am in this world and on earth. 

I do not hurry away. 

I won't have anyone harass and exasperate me. 

I am not a frantic machine. 

I am not faint-hearted. 

I can wait. 

I do not drive myself from the picture into the incommensurate. 

I do not drive myself into bottomless depth. 
Many of my friends and their pictures do no longer want to be here. 
Neither friend nor picture have any longer an existence. 
They want to go to the devil. 
How one longs in their presence for an Albers. 
The world that Albers creates carries in its heart 
the inner weight of the fulfilled man. 
To be blessed ive have to have faith. 

This holds also for art and above all for the art of our time. 
Who would have forseen that our earth would be so led by our brain 
to unbelief, to noise, to mechanical frenzy, to carefully recorded 
raggedness, to teleguided disbelief. 



jean arp, Ascona, 1957 

Translated from the German original by Anni Albers 



m 

'IHiWtW ■ 




Albers at his home in New Haven, 1965 
Photo by Jon Naar 



Sponsor's Statement 



BASF is pleased to be the corporate sponsor of the 
first major retrospective of the works of Josef Albers. 
Upon his emigration from Germany to the United 
States in i_933, American artists had as yet little ex- 
posure to the advanced trends and ideas then current in 
Europe. Albers became their recognized champion in 
the New World. His achievements served as a major in- 
fluence in the training of artists, architects and designers. 
In later years, Albers's theories on light, color and 
perception influenced computer techniques, particu- 
larly in color control of videos. It can be truly said, 
as the noted art historian Werner Spies remarked, "He 
did not teach painting, but seeing: not art, but the 
psychology and philosophy of art." 



As a company rooted in European pioneering of 
chemical synthesis, BASF is also accustomed to seeing 
the world in new ways. The company's innovativeness 
in science and technology has become well established 
in North America. 

BASF is therefore proud to sponsor this unprecedented 
chronological overview of the rich and varied scope 
of Albers's work at the Solomon R. Guggenheim 
Museum. 



JUERGEN F. STRUBE, Chairman 
BASF Corporation 



Preface and Acknowledgments 



Josef Albers was the sum of many parts: painter, 
designer, teacher, theoretician. The first of several 
Bauhaus faculty members to come to America after 
that school closed in 1933, he came to Black Mountain 
College, near Asheville, North Carolina, to assume the 
position of professor of art. There he taught with his 
wife Anni Albers, the distinguished weaver and herself 
a Bauhaus graduate, and developed a curriculum that 
revolutionized art education in America. 
In 1919 the architect Walter Gropius consolidated two 
separate schools of arts and crafts in Weimar to create 
the Bauhaus. Gropius was convinced of the need to 
abolish the distinction between fine and applied arts, 
an idea that had already been put into practice in the 
English arts and crafts movement and the Deutscher 
Werkbund. The nucleus of Bauhaus teaching was the 
principle that the architect, painter or sculptor should 
be soundly trained as a craftsman. To that end, the 
school was to be a practical workshop for design with 
emphasis placed on the study and use of materials. As 
George Heard Hamilton has noted: 

The curriculum was based on Formlehre (instruc- 
tion in problems of form) which was arranged in 
three degrees, moving from Observation (the 
study of nature and analysis of materials) through 
Representation (descriptive geometiy, techniques 
and constructions, etc.) to Composition (theories 
of space, color and design)} 



A focal point of Bauhaus teaching was its preliminary 
course, which was initially developed and taught by 
Johannes Itten. Albers, who had come to study at the 
Bauhaus in 1920, was invited by Gropius to teach the 
preliminary course in 1923. In 1928 he took charge of 
the course. 

As a result of the growing Nazi threat in Europe, a 
number of the figures associated with the Bauhaus 
emigrated to America and disseminated the principles 
of the school here: Gropius joined the faculty of 
Harvard University, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy founded the 
new Bauhaus (now the Institute of Design of the Illinois 
Institute of Technology) and Albers, as we have noted, 
went to Black Mountain College. Albers wrote in 
German in 1933: 

. . . the student should first become aware of form 
problems in general, and thereby become clear as 
to his own real inclinations and abilities. In short, 
our art instruction attempts first to teach the 
student to see in the widest sense: to open his eyes 
to the phenomena about him and, most important 
of all, to open to his own living, being, and doing. 
In this connection we consider class work in art 
studies necessary because of the common tasks 
and mutual criticism. 1 

For Albers these studies revealed: "On the one hand 
the intuitive search for and discovery of form; on the 
other hand the knowledge and application of the 



fundamental laws of form...." And, as he also noted, 
"All rendering of form, in fact all creative work, moves 
between polarities: intuition and intellect, or possibly 
between subjectivity and objectivity. Their relative 
importance continually varies and they always more 
or less overlap." 3 In his own work Albers expressed the 
concepts that he set before his students. 

Albers's continuing investigation of artistic absolutes 
led him to isolate the motif of the square and create his 
most rigorous format in 1950. The Homage to the 
Square series allowed Albers to present color in its 
infinite variations. As he observed in 1952: 

The painter chooses to articulate with or in color. 
Some painters consider color an accompaniment 
of, and therefore subordinate to, form or other 
pictorial content. To others, and today again, in an 
increasing number, color is the structural means of 
their pictorial idiom. Here color becomes au- 
tonomic. 

My paintings are preseutative m the latter direc- 
tion. I am interested particularly 111 the psychic 
effect-esthetic experience caused by the interac- 
tion of colors. 4 



In 1949 Albers left Black Mountain and in 1950 he 
became chairman of the Department of Design at Yale 
University. At Black Mountain he had invited a wide 
variety of artists to teach during the summer; at Yale 
he asked many distinguished artists to participate in 



the program as visiting critics. The dialogue that Albers 
encouraged at both schools was enhanced by artists 
whose work often differed radically from his own and 
contributed to the fame of each institution. At Yale, as 
at Black Mountain, he organized classes in basic design 
and supervised courses in drawing and color. 

Albers's impact on painting, sculpture and design both 
as teacher and theoretician are undisputed. Many of 
his most renowned students, such as Robert Rauschen- 
berg and Eva Hesse, who became important artists 
developed idioms at odds with Albers's aesthetic. Some 
students, most notably Richard Anuskiewicz and 
Julian Stanczak, directly adapted Albers's theories and 
methods of working to their own ends. The work of 
other artists like Donald Judd, Frank Stella and Sol 
Lewitt-indeed many of the Minimalists of the 1960s- 
owes much to Albers's theories and the example of his 
painting, engraved plastics and prints. Many differ- 
ences notwithstanding, the Minimalist aesthetic, based 
as it is on the use of repetitive units, technologically 
advanced materials and relationships of highly 
simplified forms, is indebted to Albers's ideas. And 
today we are witnessing a revival of geometric painting, 
albeit in a new form, and it seems evident that Albers 
has had an impact on the young adherents of this style, 
among them Peter Halley, Ross Bleckner and Peter 
Taaffe. It is true that the Utopian vision underlying the 
theoretical positions and work of Albers and other 
artists and architects of his generation may not be 
relevant in today's more cynical climate. Neverthe- 



less, Albers's art remains as valid and vital as ever, a 
totality in and of itself, a starting point for younger 
generations of artists. Indeed the effect of Albers's 
influence may still be growing; he may be more than 
the sum of his parts. 

This exhibition of Albers's lifework marks the centen- 
nial of the artist's birth and is the first comprehensive 
retrospective ever devoted to him. Nicholas Fox Weber, 
Executive Director of The Josef Albers Foundation and 
Guest Curator of this presentation, selected the works 
shown and contributed the main essay to the accom- 
panying catalogue. We are extremely grateful to him 
for his enthusiastic and knowledgeable collaboration. 
Anni Albers, the artist's widow, offered us essential 
support and advice during all phases of the exhibition's 
organization. We acknowledge Kelly Feeney of the 
Albers Foundation for her valuable participation in the 
project. We could not have realized the exhibition and 
the present publication without the indispensable 
cooperation of the Albers Foundation, which shared 
important archival materials and made crucial loans 
available. 

Our deepest gratitude is extended to BASF Corpora- 
tion and the Federal Republic of Germany for their 
generous support on this auspicious occasion. 

The scope of the catalogue has been greatly enhanced 
by the perceptive essays written for it by Neal Benezra, 
Maty Emma Harris and Charles E. Rickart. We would 
like to thank the many individuals at the Guggenheim 



Museum who worked on the project. Most central 
among these were Susan B. Hirschfeld, Assistant 
Curator, and Thomas Padon, Curatorial Assistant, 
who were actively involved in all aspects of the under- 
taking. Carol Fuerstein, Editor, and Diana Murphy, 
Assistant Editor, were responsible for the editing of the 
catalogue and seeing it through the press. 

Many works in this exhibition have never before been 
shown. They shed new light on previously unknown 
or little understood aspects of Albers's career. We were 
therefore dependent on the enlightened generosity of 
the lenders, both private and institutional, of Albers's 
works. To all these lenders to Josef Albers: A Retrospec- 
tive, we express our deepest gratitude. 

DIANE WALDMAN, Deputy Director 
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 



George Heard Hamilton, Josef Albers-Paintings, Prints 

Projects, exh. cat., New Haven, Yale University Art Gallery 

1956, p. 13. 

Quoted in Hamilton, Josef Albers, p. 15. 

Ibid. 

Ibid., p. 36. 



The Artist as Alchemist 



NICHOLAS FOX WEBER 



To most people he is known as "the square man." For 
the last twenty-five years of his life Josef Alhers made 
over a thousand of his Homages to the Square, paint- 
ings and prints in four careful formats that gave color 
an unprecedented voice. He called them "platters to 
serve color": vehicles for the presentation of different 
color climates and various color effects, above all for 
the demonstration of the way that solid colors change 
according to their positions and surroundings. 
The Homages were quick to enter the mainstream of 
popular life. Simple yet poetic, they were clearly laden 
with significance. They became the subject of television 
specials; magazine articles in Life, Realties and Time, 
as well as endless more specialized publications; the 
basis of cartoons (see figs, i, 2); the core of the first 
one-man retrospective ever given to a major living artist 
at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. 
One was reproduced on a United States postage stamp 
embodying the motto of the Department of Education, 
"Learning Never Ends." With their neutral format, free 
of history or connotations, not only did the Homages 
show aspects of color that had never before been seen 
so clearly, but they also became a symbol of artistic 
modesty and diligence. Rarely had a secular painter so 
completely suppressed his ego and personal psychol- 
ogy to embark on such a rigorous course of repetition 
in service of a single cause. But in fact he was not 
totally secular; although Albers may not have used 
known religious imagery, what he evoked through 
color is magical and intensely spiritual. 



While Albers's reputation is based primarily on the 
Homages to the Square, he did not begin them until 
1950, when he was sixty-two years old. His previous 
work was in much the same vein. From the start Albers 
had extolled visual nuance and mixed playfulness with 
formalism. Still Life with Russian Box, ca. 1914 (cat. 
no. 4), one of his earliest known oils, shares many traits 
with the Homages. Ideas that would eventually be the 
main point appear in their incipient form in this early 
painting. Solid colors are surrounded by solid colors. 
Darker ones make lighter ones look brighter yet. Broad 
planes have been foreshortened to intensify their 
impact; the shifts between them are abrupt and star- 
tling. Like the Homages, Russian Box presents a 
limited number of elements with the portent of high 
drama. 

Here and in the roughly contemporaneous Masks and 
Vase, 1916 (cat. no. 5), Albers had already learned to 
go his own consistent way. In Masks and Vase, as in 
his much later series of linear geometric drawings 
called the Structural Constellations (see cat. nos. 171- 
176), he set a plane at right angles to the overall shape 
with uncanny effect. Again his later themes prevail- 
you're not sure what you're seeing; blacks and whites 
sharpen their teeth against one another; red looks one 
way in white surrounds, another in black. Moreover, 
the painting is unusual and haunting; it doesn't look 
quite like anyone else's. The subject and contortions 
conjure Nolde, Ensor and Picasso's Les Demoiselles 
d'Avignon; the background hints at certain Blaue 




Drawing by C.E.M.; © 1968 
The New Yorker Magazine, Inc 



Drawing by Wm. Hamilton; © 1973 
The New Yorker Magazine, Inc. 




''Bacli cdiiui'uc, Bdrceloud chain, Albert prw.'s, quiche — why « 
our new people always turn out to be like our old peoples'" 



Reiter pictures; but above all there is something unique, 
a bit bizarre and mystical, going on here. Its painter 
may not have found his mature voice, but he had no 
lack of vigor or self-assurance, and he would freely 
distort his subject to reach his goals. These pictures 
relate to a degree to the art being shown at the time in 
Berlin, where Albers lived and studied between 1913 
and 1915, but in their vibrant linearity and bold use of 
unmodulated colors, they reveal an independent, 
unusually feisty and spirited artist. 

Albers was born in 1888 in Bottrop, a bleak mining 
city in the highly industrialized Ruhr River region of 
Germany. He was the son of a laborer, forever proud 
of the standards of craftsmanship that dominated his 
childhood. When asked late in his life about his 
working methods for the Homages, he would often 
explain that he always began with the center square 
because his father, who, among other things, painted 
houses, had instructed him as a young man that when 
you paint a door you start in the middle and work 
outward. "That way you catch the drips, and don't get 
your cuffs dirty." Albers revered his practical education 
and always stressed its preeminence over more esoteric 
influences that art historians tried to pin on him. 

/ came from my father, very much, and from 
Adam, that's all.... I came from a handicraft 
background. My father knew the rules, the recipes, 
and he taught them to me too. He put all the 
electricity into our house. He could do the plumb- 
ing, glass etching, glass painting, everything. He 
had a very practical mind. I was exposed to many 
handlings that I learned to steal with my eyes. 1 

Albers was proud that his mother descended from a 
line of blacksmiths. "To make a good nail for a 
horseshoe, it was necessary to have skill of the hand." 
That dexterity is evident in the entire range of his art, 
from the early oils through the Structural Constella- 
tions and Homages to the Square. The concern with 
effective methods and proper technique remained 
imperative to Lorenz and Magdalena Albers's son not 
only in his work, but also in his teaching, an area in 



which he made some of his greatest contributions. In 
German}' at the Bauhaus, and in America at Black 
Mountain College and Yale University, he taught 
students that technical mastery was the imperative that 
must underlie all artistic endeavor. Whatever one's 
artistic bent, it was necessary to develop the ability to 
write one's name in mirror script, as well as upside 
down and upside down in reverse. Without skills of 
this sort, there was no more chance of success than 
there would be for a musician who could not recognize 
proper pitch and play scales, or an athlete who did not 
exercise and was not in shape. As a printmaker Albers 
would learn to manipulate woodblocks, study the 
application of lithographic inks and pursue virtually 
all modern methods; as a painter he would develop his 
hand so as to be able to apply paints straight from the 
tube, with a painter's knife, to abut one another 
without overlapping along clean-edged boundaries. 

Albers had his early schooling in Bottrop and con- 
tinued his education in other towns in the region, 
Nordrhein-Westfalen. In 1908 he graduated, at the age 
of twenty, from the Lehrerseminar (Teacher's College) 
in Btiren, where for three years he had been trained as 
a teacher. His grades ranged from "sufficient" in 
French, musical harmony and gymnastics, to "good" 
in agricultural instruction, history and nature studies, 
to "very good" in conduct, diligence and drawing- 
fairly precursory of his future strong points. That same 
year he made his first visits to museums in Hagen and 
Munich, where he had his initial, crucial exposure to 
the work of Cezanne, Matisse, van Gogh and Gauguin. 
Following his graduation from Btiren, Albers held a 
series of positions teaching elementary school in small 
Westfalian towns and back in Bottrop. Then, in 1913, 
he went to Berlin to study the teaching of art for two 
years at the Konigliche Kunstschule (Royal Art 
School). It was in Berlin that he began to think of 
himself as an artist. He produced a number of figura- 
tive oils (some of which have since disappeared) in 
addition to Russian Box, as well as some remarkable 
drawings. Farm Woman with Kerchief, ca. 1914 (cat. 
no. 1), the earliest drawing in this exhibition, 2 shows 



the effect of the sort of drawing technique he must have 
observed in Durer's work in the Kaiser Friedrich 
Museum in Berlin. Albers by this time could draw 
competently. He rendered the woman's profile and the 
details of her knotted scarf and bun with authority and 
freedom. The head reads as a complex and convincing 
sequence of curves. And there is ongoing motion here- 
between left and right as well as foreground and 
background-of the type that recurs frequently 
throughout the body of his work. 

The approach of Dtirer as well as Holbein is also 
evident in a self-portrait oil of about 1915 (cat. no. 3). 
Like these other Northern artists, Albers distanced 
himself from the subject even when it was his own face. 
When he made this painting of himself, Albers was in 
his late twenties-an age when self-obsessiveness is 
often extreme-yet he approached his own individual- 
it)- with that same eye for generalized phenomena that 
marks his late color exploration. His attitude at the 
beginning was what it would be fifty years later; he 
took hold, becoming the one in charge rather than 
succumbing to the emotional sway of what he was 
presenting. This self-portrait puts us face to face with 
the image, unequivocally, making it a formal visual 
experience rather than any kind of biography, or- 
worse yet, from the artist's point of view-psychobiog- 
raphy. If the Homages were "platters to serve color," 
Albers looks like a soldier to serve art, his steely visage 
a vehicle for balance and symmetry. The painting is 
divided into four rather pale color zones, and, even if 
it is not as abstract and rigorous as the Homages to the 
Square, it is as definite in its formal organization. 

Like the Homages, Self-Portrait juxtaposes upward 
and downward motion; the sloping shoulders succumb 
to gravity, while the head is elevated. The early painting 
is in this way a key to the humanoid character of those 
later abstractions. With their internal squares 
positioned low, the Homages are weighted toward the 
earth much as the human body is; with their ascendant 
upper parts, they, so-to-speak, have their heads in the 
clouds. We, too, place our feet on the ground, and then 
lift ourselves upward, both mentally and physically. 



The diagonals formed by die upper corners of the 
squares within squares become arms outstretched in an 
endless reaching that seems to say that there is more 
here than meets the eye at first glance. This mix of a 
strong earthly base and a transcendent spirituality is a 
key to the fascination of all of Albers's work. 
The drawings Albers did after returning from Berlin to 
Bottrop in 1915 suggest the serenity of going home 
after a time of restless experimentation. In style and 
content, these drawings of 1915-18 are a particular 
surprise to those who are familiar only with his later 
work. In their essence they are totally of a piece with 
it, in spite of the different nature of the subject matter. 
Visually articulate, they convey their themes with 
minimal, carefully chosen forms. Most of them 
abound in open space. There is no clutter: neither 
visual confusion nor personal psychology intrude. Or, 
from another viewpoint, what psychology there is is 
that of an artist who deliberately sought to keep his 
nonartistic sides at bay. At this time and ever after, 
Albers opted for a deliberate detachment: from history, 
from artistic trends, from personal experience. This 
cutting off did not pain him; to those who knew him 
well it was clear that his life as an artist was almost all 
that mattered to him. The tenor of his work did not 
alter in response to historical events or fluctuations in 
private or professional relationships. Connections 
between the character of his art and the state of his 
emotional life — the sort of links that exist between 
Picasso's various artistic phases and his tumultuous 
love-life-have no bearing. Emotional circumstances 
shed no more light on Albers's art than on the formula- 
tions of Einstein. 

But the drawings are not cold. They suggest deep 
affection for what they represent. They are also full of 
grace and virtuosity. While bowing slightly in the 
direction of certain historical and contemporary styles, 
Albers kept his sights focused on his own objectives. 
Dexterous technique and true but economical evoca- 
tion of the subject matter were of paramount impor- 
tance. The high-spirited drawings of schoolgirls (see 
cat. nos. 16-18) are carefree in tone but present vital 



details-a foot sliding out of a wooden shoe, a head 
bent over a writing tablet-with precise articulation. In 
the drawings of animals (see cat. nos. 7, 8, 19-26), a 
few deft gestures of the crayon-almost as minimal as 
Albers's later arrangements of solid planes-capture 
quintessential birds, plump and preening; an imperious 
owl who meets us with all of his startling nocturnal 
force; the ultimate stocky rabbit. In all of them, white 
paper creates the vital masses. The trademarks of the 
artist-a simplification and intensification of detail, 
meticulous attention to the assemblage of elements- 
already shine. So does the almost mystical reverence for 
what can be taken in with our eyes. 
What is curious, considering the quality of these 
drawings, is that he kept them secret throughout his 
life. While most of Albers's figurative prints from the 
same years were all later exhibited and included in 
publications, 3 all but a dozen of over a hundred 
figurative drawings were completely unknown, even to 
the scholars and critics with closest access to his art. 
But at least he saved them for posterity, in carefully 
marked folders. This exhibition is their first public 
showing. 

While he was living and teaching in Bottrop between 
1916 and 1918, Albers took courses at the Kunstgewer- 
beschule (School for Applied Arts) in nearby Essen. He 
did several series of linoleum-cut prints and litho- 
graphs there. Better known than the drawings, and 
somewhat similar to them, the linoleum cuts (see figs. 
3, 4) have been linked to the work of many artists, 
including the German Expressionists and Delaunay. 4 
They raise the question of the degree to which Albers's 
early visual vocabulary was dependent on the work of 
others. Viewpoints range from the artist's total denial 
of most influences to art historians' exacting claims. 
The art historian E.H. Gombrich, who writes about 
Albers specifically in The Sense of Order and implicitly 
in Art and Illusion, got to the essence of this question 
in a discussion we recently had. "There may have been 
a little bit of Zeitgeist there," but the idea of an often- 
mentioned connection to Expressionism, to the work 
of Kirchner and other Briicke artists, is "nonsense." 





3 Josef Albers 

In the Cathedral: Large Middle Nave, i 
Linoleum cut on paper, 9V2 x 6" 
Collection The Josef Albers Foundation 



4 Josef Albers 

Sand Mine I. 19 16 

Linoleum cut on paper, 11% x gVs" 

Collection The Josef Albers Foundation 



Albers inevitably used aspects of the language of his 
time, but, whatever the slight superficial resemblance 
to the work of the Expressionists, he was far more 
controlled and far more personally distanced from his 
response to his subject matter than they. His primary 
concerns were with rendering the visual theme and 
exploring the materials of art. Gombrich addressed this 
second point as well: "You can submit to materials, 
which is the ideology of the truth to material. Or you 
can display your mastery in making the material 
submit to your will. Albers knew both." 5 These prints 
are intensely flavored by the tactile possibilities of the 
linoleum gouge-we practically feel the tool cutting 
through-as well as by the rich ink coverage. But the 
means are always in service of the neutral rendering of 
the subject matter: mine, nave or head. 



The artists whose work seems to have affected Albers 
significantly by this time were Cezanne and the 
Cubists. In his personal chronology, which he often 
rewrote throughout his lifetime, he always listed as the 
pivotal event of 1908 his initial encounter with 
Cezanne's art in the Folkwang Museum in Hagen. By 
1915 he had seen Cubist works in Berlin as well as 
through reproduction. From then on Albers took a new 
approach to the presentation of so-called reality and 
used planes to suggest movement. The technique of a 
ca. 1917 self-portrait drawing preparatory to a litho- 
graph (cat. no. 15) distinctly reflects Cezanne's 
works and Cubist methods. Having sketched the right 
profile, mouth, eyes and a few other details with the 
point of his lithographic crayon, Albers then used its 
side to construct, very subtly, a sequence of adjacent 



planes that describe most of the subject. There is 
vigorous planar movement and the use of blank spaces 
to define mass. The labyrinthine composition is com- 
pletely legible. The artist would be exploring a similarly 
dynamic interaction of the picture plane and illusion- 
ary three-dimensional space fifty years later in both the 
Structural Constellations and the Homages. This self- 
portrait also shows one of the salient features of 
Seurat's drawings (although it is not likely that Albers 
knew them at this time, even in reproduction) -the use 
of the ridges of the laid paper to enrich, and give 
mystery to, the gray expanses. 

As a teacher Albers was to emphasize the value of 
"maximum effect from minimum means." Some of the 
early lithographs and related drawings achieve just 
that. A large print and two study drawings of ca. 1917 
for a series of lithographs illustrating the Chinese folk 
tale The Green Flute (cat. nos. 27-29) have the eco- 
nomy of means, the combination of exuberance and 
restraint, and the gentle, flowing movement of the best 
of Albers's later, abstract work. Oddly enough, they 
also anticipate Matisse's Dance Movement drawings 
of 1931-33 (see fig. 5). This is not a case of a direct 
development or influence, but, rather, of shared objec- 
tives: concentration, a simultaneous articulation and 
reductiveness, the restless life of line. 
The drawings for the Workers' Houses lithographs of 
ca. 1917 (see cat. nos. 11-13) are equally free and 
convincing. With a sure sense of what to do and, almost 
as important, of what not to do, Albers made a few 
deft strokes with the point of his lithographic crayon 
and dragged and twisted it on its side to capture the 
street. The lower middle-class neighborhood of a bleak 
industrial city emerges for us. Albers used to claim that 
even one's spit was black there; the expanses of 
lithographic crayon become the soot itself. 
On their own, these sweeps of crayon are free-wheeling 
abstractions. In context they make sky and buildings 
and road. That eye for context, the recognition that it 
is the juxtaposition of forms and of colors that matters 
more than the individual components, is a key to all of 




Henri Matisse 
Dance Movement. 1931-32 
Pencil on paper, io 5 /s x 8 Va" 
Private Collection 



Albers's art. So is his ability to impart a charm to a 
subject that, like a flat undifferentiated square or a dull 
brown hue, is not necessarily appealing. Perhaps 
through his remarkable neutrality-he was, after all, 
showing the sort of grim neighborhood where he had 
spent most of his life until that point, yet we have no 
sense of any details of his personal connection with 
it-he gave it a certain lightness. He was exactly faithful 
to what those streets and buildings were, yet at the 
same time he transformed them. What might depress, 
entices. This has to do with the artist's special and 
inexplicable sense of things. It is as if his deliberate 
distance and sturdy control of his situation-here as in 
the later geometric abstractions and color work -put 
him directly in touch with an enchantment hidden to 
others. 



Easy— to know 

that diamonds— are precious 

good -to learn 

that rubies— have depth 

but more -to see 

that pebbles-die miraculous. 

J.A. 6 

In 1918, when World War 1 ended, Albers had a chance 
to travel. He made drawings in some of the small towns 
of the Miinsterland (see cat. no. 32), in Cologne and 
Wiirzburg, and in one case in the Sauerland, the region 
where his family originated and his grandmother lived. 
Pine Forest in Sauerland (cat. no. 3 3 ) is one of his most 
careful drawings. The dense, short strokes that form 
the distant background are opened up with larger 
intervals in the foreground: black and white have 
telling roles in distinguishing near and far. And white 
equals light; it becomes dappled sunlight on tree trunks 
and between leaves on the forest floor. Albers would 
respond to the different voices of black and white 
throughout his work. He would play them against one 
another, and allow each to perform in fullest force on 
its own. Here their interaction creates both matter and 
void. It is the basis of a living world that is at once air) 7 
and succoring. 

In 1919 Albers went to Munich, to study at the Konig- 
liche Bayerische Akademie der Bildenden Kunst (The 
Royal Bavarian Academy of Pictorial Art). What he 
valued was the painting technique class he took with 
Max Doerner. He gave little credit to his study of 
painting and drawing with Franz von Stuck, with 
whom his future Bauhaus confreres Paul Klee and 
Vasily Kandinsky had worked over a decade earlier. He 
disliked Stuck's practice of having students draw from 
the figure, which as a teacher he eventually disavowed. 
("They teach them in front of naked girls to draw. 
When they called me to teach at Yale, I saved them 
$7,000 a year for models.") Yet his drawings of nudes 
are impressive. He knew how to get the life and twist 
of the torso, and when to stop (see cat. nos. 37- 



39). In a loose and free style, he could articulate the 
curves with total accuracy. 

While he was living in Munich, Albers made some 
brush and ink views of the Bavarian mountain town 
of Mittenwald (see cat. nos. 34, 35). These exuberant 
drawings are the work of a man who was breathing 
deeply in the mountain air and who had the ability to 
turn the free sweeps of his brush into hills and build- 
ings, into mass and void. The Bottroper gone south 
was feeling his power. So much so, that in little time 
he would have no problem giving everything up for a 
new place, new people and a radically different form 
of art. From here, he might go anywhere. 



/ was thirty-two . . . threw all my old things out the 
window, started once more from the bottom. That 
was the best step I made in my life. 

In Munich Albers saw the simple four-page pamphlet 
describing the new Bauhaus school in Weimar. The 
pamphlet had on its cover a woodcut by Lyonel 
Feininger of a Gothic cathedral that symbolized the 
integration of all the arts, and a statement by Walter 
Gropius, the founding director of the school, stressing 
proficiency in craft. Albers quickly arranged funding 
from the regional teaching system of Nordrhein- 
Westfalen, with which he was still affiliated, and 
headed to Weimar. 

He had been a hometown schoolteacher and in his 
spare time a figurative artist; even when he had the 
chance to break away to the big cities to study art, he 
had worked within the accepted mode of representa- 
tion. Suddenly he was an abstract artist. There was 
nothing he wouldn't try. He was in a different orbit, 
and the possibilities were endless. 
Albers arrived at the Bauhaus in 192.0, a year after the 
school had been founded. Once there, he assembled 
broken glass shards to extract a radical and startling 
beauty from them. He juxtaposed flat planes of wood 
in sharp geometry to make furniture that was boldly 



and toughly functional. Later, after the Bauhaus moved 
to Dessau, he bent wood to create chairs that could be 
assembled in minutes and were as simple and elegant 
as they were portable. He designed an alphabet as 
different from traditional German script as the new 
aircraft from the Junkers factory near the Dessau 
Bauhaus were from a horse and buggy. He sandblasted 
glass to mirror-like smoothness and radiant tones, 
making art with no reference whatsoever to the known 
world, but with a power and energy all its own. He 
bent metal into fruit bowls and tea glasses whose 
shapes still look new sixty years later. In Dessau and 
in Berlin after the Bauhaus moved there, he taught an 
unprecedented approach to form and the possibilities 
of materials. 

The Bauhaus opened new worlds to the young Westfa- 
lian. He danced at the festivals. He made friends from 
all over, eventually with some of the artistic pioneers 
of the century. He fell in love with and married a young 
woman from Berlin who had departed as radically 
from her childhood world (comfortable, tradition- 
bound) as he had from his own past. 
The story of the Bauhaus has been told repeatedly. 
Josef Albers was there for longer than anyone else- 
from 1920 until the time of its closing in 1933. How 
much of his creative evolution and achievement of 
those years depended on what was intrinsic to Albers - 
and how much was realized because of the school 
itself- is impossible to determine. What is clear, how- 
ever, is that as radical as his break was, he did not 
really, as he claims, throw everything out the window. 
Nietzsche wrote, "If a man has character, he has also 
his typical experience, which always recurs." As a 
draftsman Albers had already chosen to avoid orna- 
ment and use the most economical means; at the 
Bauhaus he continued along the same path. From the 
start he had played flat planes against illusions of three- 
dimensional space; now he explored that device in new 
ways. He had previously succumbed to the enchant- 
ment of the black-gray-white spectrum; now he investi- 
gated it further, abandoning the encumbrance of 
subject matter. If The Green Flute and other early 



works are, as Georges Duthuit said of his father-in-law- 
Henri Matisse's drawings, "mirrors on which the 
artist's breath is barely perceptible -bel canto, without 
dissonance," 8 Albers's work of the Bauhaus years also 
reveals little of the man himself and exalts technical 
finesse and visual harmony. 

When he first arrived at the Bauhaus, Albers could 
scarcely afford materials. Documents in the town hall 
in Bottrop give voice to his extreme financial stress 
during those early years. Time and again he had to 
appeal to the regional teaching system to keep up his 
funding. He would periodically assure the officials that 
after just a bit more training at the Bauhaus he would 
return to his schoolteaching in Bottrop-a promise he 
clearly had no intention of keeping. The duress that 
might have been the dominant theme of another man's 
art became a source of beauty in Albers's. Unable to 
pay for paints and canvas, he went to the town dump 
not far from the Weimar Bauhaus, pickaxe in hand and 
rucksack on his back. He returned with glass shards 
that he assembled into works of art (see cat. nos. 40- 
43). What had been garbage became jewels. The 
discards of others were now arranged with care into 
balanced compositions that set up ongoing rhythms 
and interplay. Resurrected, the elements took on the 
life and dynamism they lacked when they lay on the 
ground. And light— the medium ever dear to the artist- 
penetrates the colors in full force. That light functions 
much as the copious blank spaces of the early drawings 
do, not only imparting luminosity but also creating an 
upbeat, positive mood. Years later, in the Homages, 
Albers would prime his panels with six to ten coats of 
white gesso to create light of the same sort, a neutral 
and generous ground that would allow colors to show 
themselves freely. 

The Bauhaus masters told Albers he had to study wall 
painting. He refused. At the end of his second semester, 
Gropius "reminded me several times, as was his duty, 
that I could not stay at the Bauhaus if I persisted in 
ignoring the advice of my teachers to engage first of all 
in the wall-painting class." Albers, however, continued 
to work with bottle shards on flattened tin cans and 



wire screens, and showed them in die required exhibi- 
tion of his work at the end of the second semester. "I 
felt that my show would be my swan song at the 
Bauhaus....But soon thereafter I received a letter from 
the Masters' Council informing me, first, that I could 
continue my studies at the Bauhaus and, secondly, 
asking me to set up a new glass workshop for them. 
Thus suddenly I got my own glass workshop and it 
was not long before I started to get orders for glass 
windows."^ Between 1922 and 192.4 he did windows 
for the Bauhaus director's office in Weimar, the Otte 
and Sommerfeld houses -both designed by Gropius- 
in Berlin, the Grassi Museum in Leipzig and the 
Ullstein Publishing House in Berlin. All destroyed 
during World War II, the only records of these windows 
today are photographs (see cat. no. 45A,b). Vibrant 
and highly charged, their designs must have added a 
vivid sense of the new to the structures they graced. 

Increasingly drawn to regularity and systematization, 
Albers soon organized his glass work with a rigorous 
geometry. Grid Mounted 1 " of 1922 (cat. no. 44) 
depends, obviously enough, on a grid. Later he would 
elaborate on the grid in myriad ways, using it as the 
basis for highly refined compositions. But here it is 
plain and simple, with the resultant motion up and 
down and left and right. Albers had incorporated a 
checkerboard within his Sommerfeld house window; 
now the motif was sufficient unto itself. For Grid 
Mounted, he filed down glassmakers' samples to small, 
uniform squares which he bound together with fine 
copper wire within a heavy iron grill. 
Checkerboards come and go as themes. They recur in 
ancient art and in American nineteenth-century 
hooked rugs. The Cubists had employed the motif in 
the early teens and Johannes Itten had used it as a 
teaching tool in the Bauhaus Vorkurs (preliminary 
course) between 1919 and 1923. Klee was to explore it 
extensively later in the decade. In any event, Albers's 
checkerboard has its own alchemy. Up front in material 
and technique, with the underlying units nothing more 



or less than a tradesman's selling tools. Grid Mounted 
has a celestial radiance. With his practical absorption 
and eye for the most effective means of making some- 
thing happen-here the creation of vigorous movement 
through color juxtapositions-he achieved eloquent 
results. His first foray into the effects of pure, flat, 
unmodulated color-and his most carefully planned 
composition to date -it richly anticipates the Homages 
that came some thirty years later. This is Albers's 
earliest assertion that he valued squares in and of 
themselves. 

Albers's new awareness of his own preferences contrib- 
utes to the quality of jubilation in the piece. The artist 
had thrown himself into the making of Grid Mounted 
with the eagerness of one who had found his way. 
Having discovered the grid, what delighted him was to 
breathe life into it. In an ordered, regular world his 
imagination was boundless; those tied down squares 
of color are full of surprises, totally free-spirited 
without ever violating their boundaries. How like 
Albers himself, especially as he was later in life: the 
ultimate law-abiding, tax-paying, good citizen, his 
lawn neatly mowed, his bills promptly paid, who never 
hesitated, while obeying the rules, to dare the outra- 
geous. Grid Mounted is euphoria within the confines 
of structure. 

In 1925, after the Bauhaus moved to Dessau, Albers 
w-as made a master. He was among the first students 
to be so elevated. The appointment put him in a 
position to ask for the hand in marriage of Annelise 
Fleischmann, the weaving student with whom he was 
to share the rest of his life. In Weimar, in addition to 
working in glass, he had made furniture and taught 
practical workmanship to basic-design students. He 
continued all these activities in Dessau. Eventually he 
became head of the preliminary course and director of 
the furniture workshop; he also explored metalwork 
and graphic design. 

It was in the medium of glass, however, that Albers's 
art was developing most fully. By 1926 he had turned 
completely from assembling shards and fragments to 



using flashed glass. He invented a technique for 
sandblasting layers of opaque glass that were fused— or 
flashed -together (see cat. nos. 55-60, 62-66, 68-74, 
96, 98, 99). He started with a sheet of opaque, pure 
white milk-glass coated with a hair-thin layer of glass 
in a second color: red, yellow, black, blue or gray. The 
front color was melted on by blowing the glass a 
second time. On top of it Albers placed a stencil cut 
from blotting paper; then he sandblasted with a 
compressed-air blower to remove all the areas of the 
surface that the stencil allowed to remain exposed. 
(Sandblasting enabled him to obtain sharper contours 
than would have been possible to achieve through 
chemical treatment with acids.) After removing the 
stencil, he generally added another color with paint 
(often a glass-painter's black iron oxide); finally he 
baked the entire piece in a kiln to make the paint 
permanent. There were variations on the process. 
Intense sandblasting would reveal the milk-glass back- 
ground (see for example cat. nos. 73, 98); sandblasting 
for a shorter time would dull a top layer of black to 
produce a dark gray (see cat. no. 95). Sometimes Albers 
used more than one stencil on a single work. 
Much as he would when he painted the Homages to 
the Square, the artist thrived on both the limitations 
and the possibilities of the program he had devised for 
himself. In America, at the time he was working on the 
Homages, he reminisced about the glass constructions 
in a way that stressed the links between the two bodies 
of work. "The color and form possibilities are very 
limited. But the unusual color intensity, the purest 
white and deepest black and the necessary preciseness 
as well as the flatness of the design elements offer an 
unusual and particular material and form effect." In 
glass he made constructions very closely related to one 
another, adding or deleting only one or two elements 
(line or color) to make variations in rhythm and 
movement (see cat. nos. 69-72). His careful probing of 
the multiple uses of the same stencil elements led to 
subtle yet bold permutations. 

The sandblasting method enabled Albers to achieve the 
detachment he preferred and which he considered 



requisite for the optimal functioning of color and form; 
except in the painted parts of these compositions, the 
artist's hand is nowhere evident. Albers sometimes did 
not even execute the pieces himself. Rather, he designed 
them in his studio and had them made in a commercial 
workshop -in Leipzig when the Bauhaus was still in 
Dessau, and in Berlin once the school moved there. 

The medium offered maximal intensity and sheen. Like 
cut jewels, the glass constructions are both radiant and 
pristine -and at a remove from everyday textures and 
substances. That quality and fineness of material 
emphasize the elevated status of art. "Instead of using 
colored glass to decorate, to create atmosphere, or to 
praise God, Albers isolated color from the effects of 
light, and glass from its architectural context, thus 
exalting color, man and machine."" It was one thing 
to use transparent glass for a stained-glass window to 
serve the idea of holiness-Albers had made such a 
window for St. Michael's church in Bottrop in 1916- 
but to use this even bolder sort of multilayered glass 
for abstract art was a radical departure. It fixed 
abstraction into confident materiality. It gave 
heightened status to nonobjective form. Interlocking 
lines and solids were put on a par with religious 
imagery 7 -deemed worthy of careful premeditation and 
exacting execution in a marvelous and mysterious 
substance generally used to treat miraculous events, 
the process of light passing through glass long having 
been seen as an analogue to the Immaculate Concep- 
tion and holy radiance in general. 
Albers was able to achieve light of a striking quality- 
with the opaque milk-glass. It is, in fact, a light reflected 
off an opaque surface that gives the illusion of being 
light shining through a translucent medium. "We feel as 
if the main light source is behind the object, whereas 
in reality it comes from the side that we are on 
(although back lighting can be an important secondary- 
source). Albers outdid nature in these flashed-glass 
pieces. He used opaque glass to create an apparent 
translucency more powerful than actual translucency, 
and he made reflected light appear to be light coming 
from a direct source. 



Tins is the sort of artifice lie later explored in Interac- 
tion of Color, the book he published in 1963 which has 
influenced the study of art throughout the world. For 
centuries artists had tried to render light accurately, to 
capture the truth of its appearance in forms as various 
as the mirror-like surfaces of sixteenth-century Flemish 
painting or the fragmented impasto of Impressionism. 
Albers admired the ability of these earlier artists to 
control the appearance of light effects and to create 
illusions of luminosity. However, his concern was not 
faithfulness to nature but rather the taking of matter 
into his own hands and making something happen in 
art that would not occur in reality. 

What results is a deliberate artificiality. The colors and 
light quality are as explicitly manmade, as distinctly 
invented and unrelated to the natural world as the 
arrangements of carefully ruled and premeditated 
shapes. His three versions of Skyscrapers of 1925 to 
1929 (cat. nos. 64-66)-made with identical stencils on 
different types of layered glass-have textures and color 
tones unlike any in nature or, for that matter, earlier 
art. This is deliberate fiction, based on the latest 
technology. Like the Homages to the Square which are 
so blatantly dependent on manufacturers' paints and 
machine-made panels and were developed in labora- 
tory-like conditions, it extols the unique capabilities of 
the most modern artistic methods. The artist has taken 
as much control as possible. In the earlier glass work, 
variables are at play in the irregularities of found glass 
and the changing nature of the light that passes through 
it. But now the artist has really taken the helm; nothing 
can alter; little is subject to chance. If Braque's and 
Picasso's Cubist collages, Schwitters's Men pieces and 
the achievements of the Dada group all reflected the 
inherent vagaries of human life and depended to an 
overwhelming degree on the element of chance, Albers 
and many of his Bauhaus confreres wished to assert 
their control over their environment. Rather than 
assemble industrial detritus, they developed industrial 
processes for their own ends. With the magic of right 
angles and a carefully organized geometry, they show 



the unique and triumphant possibilities of a manmade, 
premeditated harmony. 

The flat planes of the glass constructions relate to De 
Still and Russian Constructivism. De Sttjl was in the 
air; Theo van Doesburg lectured at the Bauhaus. 
Albers, however, was not one of his admirers. "We had 
right away a clash... that cruel insistence on just 
straight lines and right angles. It was for me just 
mechanical decoration. So we came apart... no, bet- 
ter... we never joined." 12 There was some resemblance 
between van Doesburg's and Albers's work-Albers 
was clearly not averse to using straight lines and right 
angles-but he found van Doesburg's paintings, like 
much other geometric abstraction with which his own 
art has been erroneously linked, limited to the point of 
being empty. A closer connection is to Piet Mondrian, 
with whose work Albers certainly was acquainted at 
the time, and whom he came to know personally in 
America, where he invited him to exhibit at Black 
Mountain College. Mondrian's idea of "the living 
rhythm" achieved by a balance of properly propor- 
tioned lines and angles pertains to the full range of 
Albers's art from the glass works through the Variant 
series of the late 1940s and early 1950s and the 
Homages. So does his notion that "abiding equilibrium 
is achieved through opposition and is expressed by the 
straight line (limit of the plastic means) in its principal 
opposition, i.e. the right angle." 13 Albers never used 
the term Neo-Plasticism in reference to his own ambi- 
tions, but he adhered to some of its tenets, like the idea 
that "to be concerned exclusively with relations, while 
creating them and seeking their equilibrium in art and 
in life, that is the good work of today, and that is to 
prepare the future." 14 Those who knew Albers may 
question the perfection of his personal relationships- 
he did not exactly thrive on their inevitable variables- 
but time and again he claimed the link between moral 
behavior and the attributes of his own work. He saw 
his art as representing an ideal for the integration of 
the individual in society both in its tone and in the 
simultaneous independence and interdependence of its 



forms and colors. He surely would have subscribed to 
Mondrian's view that "Equilibrium, through a con- 
trasting and neutralizing opposition, annihilates indi- 
viduals as particular personalities."" To be neutral 
rather than subjective, to voice universal truths rather 
than personal experience, was of pivotal importance 
to both artists. 

The sandblasted glass constructions are based on the 
kind of planning and preparation that would mark 
Albers's work from then on. Never again did he allow 
spontaneity comparable to that of his early drawings 
to appear in a finished work. There are two possible 
interpretations of this development. One is that he was 
afraid of his emotions and sensuality. The other is that 
the allegedly cool art is as full of life as the figurative 
pieces. 

What is certain is that from 192.0 on Albers wanted his 
work free of reference to earthly life. (The only possible 
exception to this is his photography, but he apparently- 
regarded this as separate from the rest of his art since 
he never showed it to others, referred to it or suggested 
that it be included in exhibitions or in publications.) In 
even the earliest pre-Bauhaus drawings, he had avoided 
the extraneous in favor of refinement and simplifica- 
tion; now he went further in his embrace of limitations 
and generalized form. It was a move toward absolutes, 
and toward the eternal. 

The fundamental character of Albers's art was in ways 
constant and invincible, but its appearance and 
methods from 1920 on were a total departure. Geomet- 
ric abstraction represented a total change for Albers, in 
keeping with the leap signified by his entire experience 
of the Bauhaus. He had come from a provincial 
working-class background; to break from it com- 
pletely, he had to give up as much of what he had been 
before as he could. By taking up the new credo, and 
revealing nothing of his personal experience, he made 
it possible for the new world of the Bauhaus to be his. 
Through abstraction, people from all over and of 



diverse economic backgrounds came from the same 
place. Albers's mastery of the abstract idiom was his 
stepping stone: first at the Bauhaus, and then in 
America where it eased his transition to a new society 
by making him instantly a hero, and where it later led 
him to considerable financial well-being. The distanc- 
ing of himself from his past, and subsequent turning to 
an unprecedented vision and methods, was his means 
of achieving freedom. The work, appropriately, looks 
like an awakening. 



In a ship, what is so indispensable as the sides, the 
hold, the bow, the stern, the yards, the sails and 
the mast? Yet they all have such a graceful appear- 
ance that they appear to have been invented not 
only for the purpose of safety but also for the sake 
of giving pleasure. 
cicero 16 

Albers's achievement in furniture design, typography, 
architecture and metalwork is as dependent on the 
machine aesthetic as are the glass works. Here too are 
the cleanly honed edges and flat smooth planes of the 
flashed-glass constructions. Geometric forms respond 
to one another in precise arrangement. Aesthetic 
decisions seem to have been the result of a careful study 
of the technical possibilities of the material. They 
derive from formal invention rather than from any 
reference to the natural world or organic structures. 

The work in other disciplines is less innovative than the 
glass pieces, but it nevertheless has its striking qualities. 
Essentially Albers worked in the current vernacular 
style in these realms, contributing to it his own eye for 
simplicity, purpose and scale. In view of what the 
people around him were doing, his accomplishment in 
typography, furniture, metalwork and architecture is 
not startlingly original; it does, however, represent 
considerable refinement of the contemporary idiom. 

There were three periods in which he worked exten- 
sively with furniture: 1922-25, 1926 and 1928-29. In 



Weimar in 1922-23, he made the magazine shelves and 
conference table, since destroyed, that are shown in 
this exhibition in vintage photographs (cat. nos. 46, 
47). Albers designed them, along with some pew-like 
seats, for the reception room outside Gropius's office. 
The table and shelves resemble to some degree Marcel 
Breuer's Bauhaus furniture of the preceding two years. 
Yet Albers's designs are distinctive in both their relative 
airiness and their sureness of form. The voids have a 
sculptural richness. Planes interlock in crisp rhythm. 
The way in which elemental shapes embrace and 
respond to one another clearly betrays the painter's 
eye. And the pieces that he designed around 1926 for 
the Berlin apartment of his and Anni's close friends 
Drs. Fritz and Anno Moellenhoff (cat. nos. 53, 54) are 
wonderfully inventive and surprising in their juxtapo- 
sitions of forms and materials. 

The furniture design for which Albers is best known is 
his chair of 1929 (cat. no. 76). ' It was made of units 
that could readily be assembled and dismantled and 
could fit into a tidy flat box for shipping. These pieces 
of bent laminated wood-veneers that had been 
molded around matrixes and glued-were as thick as 
they were wide. Over the years some fairly grandiose 
claims have been made for this chair: that it represented 
the first use of laminated bent wood in modern furni- 
ture and that the way it came apart and went back 
together was original. Is Perhaps because Albers was a 
true innovator in the fields of glass and painting, people 
believed he was equally pioneering as a designer of 
chairs. However Heinz and Bodo Rasch, Josef Hof- 
mann and other designers had already worked in bent 
laminates, and knock-down chairs had been made, and 
sold through catalogues, since the mid-nineteenth 
century. In form Albers's chair was very similar to ones 
made between 1924 and 192S by Erich Dieckmann 
and to some of the tubular steel designs popular at that 
time. What does distinguish Albers's knock-down chair 
is the subtlety of its proportions and the perpetual flow 
of its gracefully modulated right angles. 
A chair design of the preceding year (cat. no. 75) 
incorporates large squares, albeit with rounded corn- 



ers; like Grid Mounted it shows Albers's early affinity 
for the form to which he later paid extended homage. 
The simple forms and relationships give the object a 
purity, and the contrast of its light and dark woods 
makes it quite elegant. Sitting in it, we think of many 
of Albers's attitudes toward life. We are held upright, 
ready to read attentively or talk alertly. We have an 
impression of firmness, of definition. The chair is not 
tough or hostile— the seat is cushioned, the wood 
smooth-but it will not allow us to slouch. While the 
supporting elements give essential structure, a cantile- 
ver causes a slight oscillation; the result is that like most 
of Albers's work, the chair is steady yet vibrant, ground- 
ed yet floating-at once earthly and fanciful. 
In furniture as in glass, Albers moved from largely- 
following the dictates of the material to manipulating 
it to suit his will. In the first furniture designs the 
dimensions of the available lumber, like the broken 
bottle fragments in the Weimar dump, had the upper 
hand. He arranged, rather than transformed, them. 
But in the later chairs he bent and molded wood in 
much the same way that he sandblasted multilayered 
glass, respecting the intrinsic properties of the material 
but taking charge of it in a new way. The attitude 
toward material that he had developed in these two 
disciplines by the end of the 1920s was to characterize 
his work forever after. The Homages to the Square 
explicitly honor paints straight from the tube, each 
listed with the manufacturer's name on the back of the 
panel in a way that shows unusual reverence for the 
tools of the trade. Yet despite this meticulous listing 
and the almost scientific method of application, the 
paints in the Homages seem incorporeal and metaphys- 
ical: they become light, atmosphere, mood. Ironically, 
it is the apparently methodical application of the 
medium that facilitates the attainment of this spiritual 
quality. Albers felt that to revel in impasto, to succumb 
to the sensual properties of the medium, would have 
emphasized his own physicality and personal feelings 
and been detrimental to the expression of the cosmic 
and other-worldly dimension. Similarly, in his furni- 
ture, he polished that plain, uncarved wood, and 



avoided blemishes and accidents, to create form that 
seems almost ethereal while at the same time offering 
considerable physical comfort. 

Albers used his chairs in a design for a hotel living 
room that represented his one known attempt at space 
planning (cat. nos. 92, 93). Although it was reproduced 
in three different publications in the early 1930s, 
neither this design nor Albers 's drawing of 1926 for 
two shops for the Ullstein Publishing Company (cat. 
nos. 51, 52) have until now appeared in the literature 
on the artist or in any of his exhibitions. He designed 
the hotel room for the 1931 Bauausstellung (Building 
Exhibition) in Berlin. It was assembled on the second 
floor of the house that Ludwig Mies van der Rohe built 
for that exhibition. The room spoke in the voice of the 
day, but with its own fine proportions and openness of 
form. And it included one particularly ingenious touch: 
on the wall, Albers had placed a map of the city of 
Berlin, so that visitors could find their way. 1 " One 
wonders why this is not always done in big city hotels. 

The Ullstein shop designs, meant to be built in the area 
of the Kurfiirstendamm in Berlin, point to a fascinating 
and unknown side of the artist. We know very little 
about them, except that they were reproduced in the 
1927 publication Offset and that Anni Albers's mother 
was an Ullstein, the daughter and sister of the men who 
owned the large publishing house. The shops were 
never built, and there is no record of them other than 
the reproductions and an accompanying text citing 
Albers's intention that window shoppers should be 
both attracted and protected. The shop designs look, 
even today, like something out of the future. They have 
the adventurousness and imagination, as well as the 
total disregard for tradition, that characterized the 
Berlin of their epoch. It is unfortunate that we have no 
record of their actual plan and the technical details, 
except for the lettering for their signs, which is from 
the alphabet Albers designed in 1926 specifically for 
outdoor use. 

That alphabet, which Albers called his "Kom- 
binationsscbrift" (cat. no. 50), was based entirely on 



permutations of circles and rectangles. Here, as in his 
chair designs and his later painting, he restricted 
himself to the bare minimum of underlying units. The 
result is that the letters were easy to construct; ten types 
of pieces-circles, rectangles and combinations of the 
two- were all that was required. While the design is not 
completely unique-it relates closely to other Bauhaus 
typography and stencil lettering-it is unusually practi- 
cal and has an appealing aesthetic unity. Albers later 
explained that "these forms were combined in a way 
that did not collect dust or water or both, and thus 
[were] for outdoor use"; 2 " he had carefully worked out 
the arrangements so that there were no upward facing 
concavities into which leaves, snow or other elements 
might fall. In addition there were openings to facilitate 
drainage. His goal was to outsmart nature. 

Albers also designed a fruit bowl and tea glasses (cat. 
nos. 48, 49A,b). In its use of a shiny stainless-steel 
framing element with a simple flat ebony handle 
supporting a thin glass vessel, the tea glass, designed in 
1926, was very similar to one that had been made three 
years earlier at the Bauhaus by M. Krajewski and W. 
Tiimpel. As with the chair, Albers broadened and 
simplified a known form. His tea glasses are more 
restrained and elegant than their predecessors, thanks 
to their use of fewer forms in more graceful proportion. 
And the delicate juxtaposition of absolutely minimal 
elements makes the fruit bowl especially striking. 

At the Bauhaus Albers had continued his technical 
explorations and further refined his eye. Eloquence and 
simplicity of composition are consistently apparent in 
his work of the period. But around the year 1930 he 
also immersed himself in visual mischief. For example, 
he pursued the creation of illusory transparency- a 
theme he would treat in Interaction of Color. In works 
such as Flying, 1931 (cat. no. 94), he gave the false 
impression that forms overlapped and that one was 
visible through the other. He did this by finding the 
precise tone that would have been created if these 



shapes were transparent and superimposed. It thrilled 
the artist to find that art provided experiences that 
nature could not offer. 

Albers also developed forms with multiple, apparently 
contradictor} readings. Two-dimensional imagery 
offered possibilities unknown in three-dimensional 
reality, and so we get the ambiguous cylinders of Rolled 
Wrongly, 1933 (cat. no. 98), and the complex interplay 
of the flashed-glass piece Steps of the same year (car. 
no. 96). In Steps, the larger steps to the right clearly 
move upward and away to the right; however, the 
smaller steps first appear to recede upward to the left, 
then upward to the right, and then to go up half way 
in one direction and reverse. With their distinct move- 
ment in a single direction, the large steps are an effective 
foil to the more ambiguous course of the smaller ones. 
That image of the smaller steps, related to both Gestalt 
psychology and the art of M.C. Escher, would always 
remain important for Albers. Believing that the original 
glass construction had been destroyed after he left 
German}', he re-created it in oil in 1935, and had it 
reproduced in screenprint in his retrospective portfolio 
Formulation: Articulation in m~z. The many possible 
readings of the left-hand flight of stairs continued to 
fascinate him, and he repeatedly republished his writ- 
ing about it. Steps is included in much of the literature 
on Albers, generally with the information that the 
original glass construction was destroyed. That original 
has now reemerged, and is included in this exhibi- 
tion. 21 Many qualities are apparent in the 
glass piece that are not clear in either of the later 
versions. For one, the chameleon-like life of the smaller 
flight of the steps is more effective in the glass construc- 
tion than in the other mediums. In addition, the 
original is remarkable in its textural variations: the 
sheen of the jet black plays against the slightly pebbled 
surface of the more matte, grayer black; that lighter 
black, while carefully machined and constant when 
viewed close up, is full of atmosphere and takes on a 
white bloom when seen at a distance. The gray is 
altered ad-infinitum as a result of its adjacency to the 
white. Hence Steps-like many of the Homages a three- 



color composition-uses three solid colors to achieve 
the impression of more than three. This glass construc- 
tion shows the enormous life that Albers could wrest 
from three colors and simple forms, and the richness 
with which he could imbue black, white and gray. 

Albers continued to investigate the black-gray-white 
spectrum in some of the Treble Clef "works of 1952 to 
193 5 (see cat. nos. 100-T05 ). The forms in each of these 
grisaille paintings are almost identical, but rhythm, 
motion and direction all change according to the 
placement of monochromatic tones. At around the 
same time Klee and Picasso, in such works as the 
latter's The Milliner's Workshop (fig. 6), were also 
exploring the effects of light and dark hues in the black- 
white spectrum on spatial motion— an issue that had 
already intrigued both of them previously. Albers 
ventured into the realm of this spectrum in a very- 
different way in his photographs and photo-collages 
(see cat. nos. 77-91)- Dexterous and unerring in yet 
another medium, he manipulated light and dark 
powerfully and articulately in these works. The photo- 
graphs are rich in linear rhythm and abstract qualities, 
and the photo-collages juxtapose related images 
dramatically. At the same time the photographs further 
indicate the strength as a portraitist and representa- 
tional artist which Albers revealed in his earlier paint- 
ings, drawings and prints. 22 



At the Bauhaus Albers formed many of the most 
significant personal relationships of his life. Foremost 
was his marriage to Anni; they remained together until 
the artist's death in 1976. For over fifty years the two 
shared an abiding faith in the pervasive power of art, 
and a reverence for materials and technical proficiency 
(Anni Albers became known as one of the major 
weavers of modern times). They developed a modest 
and functional way of life geared above all to their 
work. Intensely moral in their work standards, humble 
yet confident, they were like a two-person religious 
sect. Particularly during the Bauhaus years, their art 
bore a strong mutual resemblance— a point that has led 



to endless conjecture as to who influenced whom (fig. 
7). Later it diverged in very different directions, but the 
work of each was always marked by real innovation 
and a reverence for geometric abstraction. The grid, its 
prevalent rightness and order, was part of their shared 
creed. 

Albers also became close to some of his other fellow 
students at the Bauhaus, especially Breuer and Herbert 
Bayer, with whom he later maintained connections in 
the United States. His relationship with Gropius 
remained significant for him until the 1960s, when he 
designed murals for several of the American buildings 
designed by the first Bauhaus director. And while he 
had little taste for the work of Itten and Laszlo 
Moholy-Nagy, he deeply respected both Klee and 
Kandinsky, with whom he continued to correspond 
warmly after the Bauhaus closed in 1933. Klee and 
Kandinsky, along with Mies van der Rohe, were the 




Anni Albers 

Untitled Wall Hanging. 1925 
Silk, 102 x 40" 
Whereabouts unknown 



6 Pablo Picasso 

The Milliner's Workshop. January 1926 
Oil on canvas, 6-/V4 x ioo 7 /s" 
Collection Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris 



people with whom Albers carried on his most profound 
exchanges about the processes of art. 
Albers was one of the most experimental teachers at 
the Bauhaus. The students in his preliminary- course 
say that it influenced them irrevocably. In it he stressed 
the manipulation of materials, particularly the folding 
and cutting of paper to create astounding plastic 
effects. He encouraged students to work creatively with 
cardboard, wire mesh, newspaper, ribbons and other 
substances not formerly thought of as belonging to the 
realm of art. The goal of the course was to develop 
both dexterity and imagination. Albers's own artistic 
achievement demonstrates the extent to which he 
realized the directives of his teaching. 



In 1932 the city legislature of Dessau, dominated by 
the Rightist Radical party, voted to dissolve the 
Bauhaus, of which Mies van der Rohe had become 
director in 1930. The school moved to Berlin, into a 
building that formerly housed a telephone company. It 
was, however, the city of Dessau that continued to pay- 
faculty salaries, because the courts had deemed that 
the city's contract with the masters had been termi- 
nated prematurely. On June 15, 1933, the Oberstadt- 
inspektor of the Dessau City Council wrote Josef 
Albers a letter in which he stated: 

Since you were a teacher at the Bauhaus in Dessau, 
you have to be regarded as an outspoken exponent 
of the Bauhaus approach. Your espousing of the 
causes and your active support of the Bauhaus, 
which was a germ-cell of bolshevism, has been 
defined as "political activity" according to part 4 of 
the law concerning the reorganization of the civil 
service of April 7, 1933, even though you were not 
involved in partisan political activity. Cultural 
disintegration is the particular political objective of 
bolshevism and is its most dangerous task. Con- 
sequently, as a former teacher of the Bauhaus you 
did not and do not offer any guarantees that you 
will at all times and without reserve stand up for the 
National State. 1 ' 




Paul Klee 

Old Man Figuring. 1929 
Etching, printed in brown-black, plate 11- 
Collection The Museum of Modern Art, 
New York. Purchase 



9 3 /s" 



The Oberstadtinspektor informed Albers that he 
would no longer receive a salary. On July 20, as a result 
of increasing harassment from the National Socialists, 
the Bauhaus faculty, at a meeting in which Albers was 
one of seven participants, voted to dissolve the school. 
Mies van der Rohe notified the Gestapo accordingly. 

At age forty-five Albers was without a job. As a pioneer 
modernist in Nazi Germany he had little hope of 
finding one. Married to a Jew, he must have feared a 
bleak future. Yet his art of the time was as unruffled as 
his life was tumultuous. The prints he made in 1933 
(see cat. nos. 106-108) bespeak the serenity Albers must 
have lacked but craved. To look at The Sea (cat. no. 
107) is to feel the role of art as a source of personal 



equanimity through technical absorption. Albers first 
applied a soft linoplate to a wooden backing, and then 
incised a continuous curve into it before using a chisel 
to remove strips of the linoplate on either side of that 
curve to reveal the rich wood grain underneath. The 
processes of art, and the power of their result, were the 
mainstay that assured Albers's survival, physical as well 
as emotional. His sense of his own identity was 
impervious to crisis. 

There was something increasingly international and 
timeless about Albers's art. The forms were familiar to 
many cultures in ancient as well as modern times. If 
the early linoleum prints were in ways identifiably 
German, and the first oils characteristically of an 
epoch-both in their subject matter and their relation- 
ship, however tenuous, to Jugendstil and Expression- 
ism- The Sea speaks less clearly of place or era. This 
universality, as well as many of its visual elements, link 
it to Klee's Old Man Figuring of 1919 (fig. 8), which 
similarly juxtaposes slightly irregular horizontal lines 
of varying thickness to larger and more precise undulat- 
ing curves. In both prints the interplay creates a 
complex visual diversion, and blends levity with serenity. 



For both Anni and Josef Albers, art offered oppor- 
tunities for a balance and repose less certain in the real 
world; it was an antidote to the pressures of everyday 
living. The emotional detachment from their locale was 
to make transmigration to another society relatively 
easy. In the summer of 193 3 the American architectural 
student Philip Johnson, who had met Anni and Josef 
and seen their work at the Dessau Bauhaus, visited their 
Berlin apartment. He asked if they would like to go to 
America. Without giving it more than a moment's 
consideration, they answered yes. Six weeks later, Josef 
received a telegram from Johnson asking if he would 
like to teach art at a new and experimental college being 
formed in Black Mountain, North Carolina. The found- 
ers of Black Mountain had approached Johnson in his 
office at The Museum of Modern Art in search of the 



name of a teacher who could make art the focal point 
of the curriculum, and he had immediately suggested 
Albers. There would also be an opportunity for Anni to 
give instruction in weaving. 

The Alberses had no idea where North Carolina was; at 
first they thought it might be in the Philippines. But they 
cabled back their acceptance, with the warning that 
Josef spoke no English. The reply from the Black 
Mountain faculty was to come anyway. And so began 
the process of obtaining passports and visas, all of which 
they felt went surprisingly smoothly. (Unknown to the 
Alberses at the time, the procedures were expedited by 
the Committee to Rescue German Artists, a newly 
formed group of affluent Americans already aware of 
the realities of Nazi Germany.) 

Anni and Josef Albers arrived in Black Mountain, North 
Carolina, in November 1933, just in time for their first 
American Thanksgiving. They quickly and easily took 
up the teaching and making of art. Language, however, 
was a problem. At first Albers taught with a translator 
at his side. After several weeks Anni, who as a child had 
had an Irish governess and therefore spoke some En- 
glish, sat in on one of his classes. She noticed that the 
translator, whom she suspected of Nazi sympathies, was 
making Josef sound far more Teutonic and dictatorial 
than he actually did in German. She convinced him to 
go unaided. Since Josef felt that the essence of his 
teaching depended on visual demonstration more than 
words, this did not pose major problems for him. At 
least he knew the new tongue well enough to state his 
teaching goal with succinct clarity - "to open eyes." 
These words were to remain a personal credo of his 
aims as an educator. 

Anni took it upon herself to teach the new language to 
her husband. Sometimes the results were dubious. 
Once, when the two were walking in farm country- 
near the college, Josef saw the word "pasture" on a 
signpost and asked his wife what it meant. "That is 
perfectly clear," she replied. "It is the opposite of 
future." But in spite of the rough start, both Alberses 
were eventually to lecture and write books in English 
with vast success. 



The language of art was less troublesome. Albers 
produced a print series (see cat. nos. 109-111) with a 
publisher in Asheville that was very similar to one (see 
cat. nos. 106-108) he had been working on in Berlin 
when the Bauhaus closed. When the Berlin and 
Asheville prints were shown in Italy at the very end of 
19 1-4, Kandinsky wrote in the preface to the catalogue 
that accompanied the exhibition, "These beautiful 
sheets ... reflect all Albers's qualities: artistic invention, 
clear and convincing composition, simple but effective 
means: and finally a perfect technique." 24 The work 
embodies points that had become central to Albers's 
teaching and which he articulated in a lecture pub- 
lished at the Bauhaus in 1928. "An element plus an 
element must yield at least one interesting relationship 
over and above the sum of those elements.""' Thus in 
Wings (cat. no. 109), there are not only the left- and 
right-hand configurations, but also the constant in- 
terplay between the two. The viewer becomes engaged 
in a game of opposites. Is the rectangle on the right the 
negative of the one on the left? Why do the horizontal 
stripes on the left appear to be white on black and 
those on the right black on white? What is the nature 
of the strange attraction between the two bodies, 
which resembles the forces exerted against one another 
by two magnets? Relationships of forms are as essential 
to these prints as are relationships of color in the 
Homages to the Square. "Frugality leads to emphasis 
on lightness.... In any form, nothing should be left 
unused," Albers also wrote in that 1928 essay.~ h In the 
economical Showcase (cat. no. n 1) essentially all we 
see are two rectangles -one with its corners flattened- 
and a third configuration in which a single line is 
contorted to create two interlocked beings that appear 
to lean into one another. There is no gravity here, either 
physical or emotional. The larger rectangle appears to 
elevate the whole configuration, the second one to hold 
it down so that everything does not float heavenward. 
We read the composition as chambers within cham- 
bers, as a stage, as comedy. A few thin lines, carefully 
positioned, provide endless entertainment. 
Like his earlier glass pieces and the later Homages, the 



paintings Albers executed during the first years after he 
arrived in America (see cat. nos. 11 2- 117) revel in the 
power of pure, undiluted color. They seem far more 
carefree and improvisational, with their rougher tex- 
tures and forms, than the preceding works, but like 
the earlier pieces they present solid areas of pigment- in 
abstract, nonreferential shapes-that are kernels of 
energy. This new work reveals nothing of the uncertain- 
ties of the artist's life; rather it makes paint and panel 
a source of high spirits. In spite of the appearance of 
randomness in these paintings, their positive mood is 
always the result of conscious decisions. The untitled 
abstraction of ca. 1940 painted on an RCA Victrola 
top (cat. no. 115) demonstrates the precise approach 
that characterizes even Albers's seemingly offhand 
work. Like the forms in so many of Albers's two-figure 
paintings of the thirties and forties (see cat. nos. 126- 
128, 134, 140), the two cloud-like central bodies have 
been conceived with great care. Their colors accentuate 
their personalities. The jaunty pink suits the tall and 
range\' one; the green, somehow a more settled hue, is 
perfect for the stockier, more compact shape. The 
relationship of these bodies elucidates Albers's point 
that the sum of one plus one in art can, in fact must, 
exceed two; the tense void between the two forms is as 
interesting as the forms themselves. 
Albers was at Black Mountain College from 1933 to 
1949. In a world in which oppression was spreading, 
he had come to a haven for freedom and relative 
tranquility. This was his typical move. In a hierarchical, 
class-conscious Germany he had found his way to the 
Bauhaus, an island of intellectual and social ex- 
perimentation. Now, with totalitarianism overcoming 
his homeland, he had arrived in a pocket of America 
free from most of the restrictions of conventional 
middle-class society. Albers's freedom did not come 
just from physical place, however; his independence 
above all derived from his own character. In the 1950s 
he easily, and with total awareness of what he was 
doing, distanced himself from the multiple pressures of 
academia at Yale and of the New York art world to go 
his own route. Luck, along with an intense determina- 



tion to shape his own destiny, enabled him always to 
make his life and work exactly what he wanted. 

Mary Emma Harris's essay in this catalogue describes 
Albers's role as an administrator and teacher at Black 
Mountain College, where he was a pivotal figure, the 
drawing card for great numbers of students and visiting 
faculty members. During his years at Black Mountain 
not only did he become one of the two major art 
teachers in America (the other was Hans Hofmann), 
but he also peaked in his adventurousness and diversity 
as a painter and printmaker. His work from this period 
reflects the freedom of his surroundings and the power 
of his own imagination. He took straight lines and 
geometric forms further than he had at the Bauhaus 
(see cat. nos. 118-122, 135-137, 146). He showed 
geometry to be at once clear and rational and a source 
of mystery and ambiguity. He made precise shapes that 
offered multiple readings. He was like a laboratory 
chemist who, for all of the exactitude of his measure- 
ments and purity of his elements, delighted most of all 
in some inexplicable alchemy. 

In a remarkable group of drawings from 1936 (cat. 
nos. 119-122), which are exhibited here for the first 
time, planes shift and fold in contradictory ways as we 
look at them. The flat pieces of white paper begin to 
take on as many facets as a prism. The thin, lilting lines 
suggest that Albers was reaching for something, mov- 
ing into the unknown. We enter the process with him. 
Standing still, we constantly change our viewpoint. We 
gain and lose surfaces, feel volumes grow and then 
collapse. The work has a questioning look to it and 
invites our musing. So does a sequence of paintings of 
the late 1930s and early 1940s (see cat. nos. 133, 166). 
Here geometric forms interlock in ambiguous ways, 
alternately appear to be transparent and opaque, and 
rapidly shift their location from foreground to 
background. We cannot quite pin the movements 
down, or understand how they coexist with the potent 
stillness that dominates the compositions. 

Janus, 1936 (cat. no. 146), exemplifies the kind of 
double imagery that increasingly preoccupied Albers 




9 Janus Helmet Mask 

Nigeria, Anyang or Keaka 

Wood, leather, paint and other materials, 

20 5 /s" high 

Collection Staatliches Museum fur Volkerkunde, 

Munich 

in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The Staatliches 
Museum fur Volkerkunde, which Albers almost cer- 
tainly visited when he lived in Munich in 1919-20, 
seems the only likely place for him to have seen actual 
Janus heads, as opposed to reproductions of them. A 
Janus-face helmet mask acquired by the museum in 
1903 (fig. 9), shows remarkable similarities to Albers's 
painting. Both mask and painting contain individual 
elements that are distinctly separate and unified at the 
same time. The mask offers two independent angular 
profiles that of course belong to the same head. They 
simultaneously appear to jut away from that head and 
to be contained by it, to be linear and jagged yet part 
of something massive and round. Similarly the lines 
of Albers's Janus move with power and certainty away 




io Josef Albers 

Study for -Bent Black A" (detail). 

ca. 1940 

Pencil and oil on paper, 24 x 19" 

Collection The Josef Albers 

Foundation 



from the main elements of the composition while being 
centered by it and dependent on it. Movement outward 
and inward occurs at once, and there are both light- 
ning-like bands and large central masses. And in mask 
and painting alike the contrast of white and black is as 
strong and deliberate as the play of mass against void 
and edge against bulk. 

Three variations on a theme- Bent Black A and B, both 
1940, and Bent Dark Gray, 1943 (cat. nos. 135-137) 
-represent the earliest instance of Albers's deliber- 
ate use of equal quantities of different colors in a single 
composition. This intent is apparent in the pencil 
notation on an oil on paper study for Bent Black A (fig. 
10). Here Albers has carefully worked out the compos- 
ition so that there are precisely forty and one-half 
square-centimeters of each color: the black, the dark 
gray, the white and the light gray border. This strict 
system serves a number of purposes. For one, it sets 
forth restrictions of the sort Albers enjoyed imposing 
on himself. He felt that tough rules, like the poet's 
sonnet and the composer's sonata, by their very nature 
imparted harmony to the end results. He did not expect 
viewers to read the system precisely, but, rather, to gain 
a sense of order and regularity through it. Additionally, 
the use of equal amounts of different pigments dem- 
onstrates an important point about color, which would 
become a central theme of his Variant paintings. Albers 



asked people what color they felt they saw in greatest 
quantity in these works. He was pleased to get different 
answers; there was no right or wrong response, for 
everything depends upon individual perception. One 
person sees more black, another more white. The point 
is that although there are equal quantities of each, the 
properties of the white or black themselves give the 
viewer an erroneous impression. This was what Albers 
called "the discrepancy between physical fact and 
psychic effect," the demonstration of which was an 
imperative of his art. 

Albers used a grid for these compositions in which he 
strictly apportioned color. The notations in the studies 
for Movement in Gray, 1939 (cat. no. 133), show the 
premium he placed on schemata, and how important 
it was for him to be the master of the destiny of the 
picture. For Penetrating B, 1943 (cat. no. 165), he made 
both a full-size hand-drawn grid and smaller drawings 
in which he tested different widths and angles before 
determining the final measurements. Control-perhaps 
in all of its negative as well as positive associations -is 
at the root of all Albers's art. 

Despite his careful forethought, Albers did not eschew 
a degree of spontaneity. Having charted his course, he 
would occasionally succumb to an on-the-spot intrigue 
with paint and surface, which might produce unusual 
textures that could never have been planned in ad- 



vance. The results of such spontaneity are apparent in 
the nature of the paint coverage in works like Penetrat- 
ing B, whose tidy shapes, by virtue of their internal 
textures, encompass a mysterious, unfathomable sea. 
A precise framework yields the infinite. 

Equal and Unequal, 1939 (cat. no. 134), is another 
work in which Albers deliberately pursued ambiguity. 
It seems no accident that this is the painting that Anni 
Albers has, at least for the past fifteen years, chosen as 
the sole art work in her bedroom, where she faces it 
for hours on end. In many ways the picture is analo- 
gous to the Alberses' marriage as well as to other close 
two-person relationships -a point supported by its 
title. Two independent, freely floating shapes appear 
both to attract and resist one another. These very 
similar beings remain separate, each powerful in its 
individuality, yet at the same time seem drawn toward 
one another by strong, inexplicable forces. It looks as 
if highly charged, invisible rays of energy cross the void 
between them. Anni Albers says that the painting has 
never failed to elude her; however many times she tries 
to grasp the connections between the two forms, she 
loses whatever system she first reads. 

Throughout the late thirties and early forties Albers 
used identical formats to present different color combi- 
nations, as he had done with several of the glass 
constructions and the Treble Clefs. The changes in 
color affect both the internal rhythms and the emo- 
tional climate of the compositions. In the three versions 
of Open of 1940 (cat. nos. 142-144), very slight 
proportional variations are accompanied by particu- 
larly subtle color permutations. These are among 
Albers's early forays into making flat expanses of 
unmodulated color appear to be intersecting planes. 
They are weightless and light-touched, like four other 
paintings from 1940, Growing, Layered, Tierra Verde 
and lb Mitla (cat. nos. 138-141). In the flow of their 
forms, their use of color to make movement and their 
vague reference to natural phenomena, these four 
pictures again recall Klee's work. They show Albers 



could get everything right without using a rigid format. 
Here his combination of thoughtful articulation and 
apparent insouciance reached its apogee. 



At Black Mountain Albers often had his students use 
autumn leaves to investigate the importance of posi- 
tion, considering both the way that the individual 
leaves change according to their relationship to other 
leaves, and the effects of cut-paper backgrounds on 
these leaves. In his own leaf studies of ca. 1940 and 
1942 (see cat. nos. 147-151), which have never before 
been on public view, leaves appear to dance, float, fly 
and swim. Position and adjacency are shown to be 
laden with possibility. In a collage that is oddly like a 
painting by Magritte, two leaves are in front of a 
background that explicitly represents sea and sky, and 
inanimate objects become majestic presences (cat. no. 
150). Albers has painted a sort of shadow box effect 
alongside the leaves so that they appear to be in relief 
and tilted toward one another, jauntily conversing 
through the elegant void that separates them. Their 
wings spread, they look as if they can soar through 
space. Here as in much of Albers's work of the period, 
the imagery of individuals afloat in a magical universe 
embodies a major goal of his life and work; the 
achievement of grace and stasis in the presence of the 
spiritual. 



The appearance of Albers's prints of the early 1940s 
ranges from childlike to precisely machined. In either 
case the results are full of esprit, bordering on the 
frenetic. In the small drypoint etching Eh-De, 1940 
(cat. no. 158), named for the young son of Anni and 
Josef's Black Mountain College friends and associates 
Theodore and Barbara Dreier (see cat. no. 159), lines 
leap and bulge to encapsulate the pudgy toddler. Its use 
of nothing more than two continuous, unmodulated 
lines recalls the exercise in which Albers mandated his 
drawing students not to lift pencil from paper. The 
issue is how much you can get from how little. Two 



other etchings, both dated 1942, are similarly restric- 
tive yet evocative of their subjects: the etched lines of 
Maternity (cat. no. 157) envelop and succor, while those 
of Escape (cat. no. 156) dart furiously in a way that 
suggests that Albers did not always keep his concern 
about the plight of refugees at a remove from his art. 

The Graphic Tectonic series of zinc-plate lithographs 
and related drawings of 1942 (see cat. nos. 160, 161 ) also 
range in mood from intensely animated to penetrat- 
ingly calm. Here movement and resolution are com- 
bined within single images. And like the drypoint 
etchings, they achieve compositional complexity 
through minimal means. Their appearance, however, 
is highly mechanical. But for all the exactitude of the 
technique, the movement of their forms is completely 
ambiguous; for all their coolness, they are recklessly 
lively. Configurations that resemble wiring diagrams 
are subtly mysterious. The Graphic Tectonics show that 
Albers himself had achieved the goals of his drawing 
courses at Black Mountain College: a clear head, 
"seeing eyes, and obedient hands." 2 ' They embody as 
well the merits of discipline and accuracy, and of 
economy of material and labor, which he propounded 
in his teaching. The series also demonstrates the ability 
of "black lines [to] produce gray tones and, for 
sensitive eyes, color." 2 * For example, it is almost 
impossible to believe that the background color of the 
paper is constant in the drawing Graphic Tectonic III 
(cat. no. 160). Some areas look snowy, some ivory or 
even purple, apparent tonal variations caused by 
Albers's manipulation of parallel lines. Once again a 
scientific, exacting approach yields the unexpected. 

A group of prints from 1944 (cat. nos. 167-169) gives 
evidence that a clever juxtaposition of elements is the 
key to a transformation of realities. In Tlaloc (cat. no. 
169) a spare configuration of thin, straight lines on top 
of a wood-grained background becomes the Aztec rain 
god, broad-shouldered and all-powerful. In Astatic 
(cat. no. 168) white planes appear as hard and thin as 
sheet aluminum, and seem bent. Although they are 
made of the white paper on top of which the surround- 
ing wood grain has been printed, the planes look as if 



they are in front of the grain, which becomes a 
background of sea and sky. 



/ had askcil of his painting that it should lead un- 
to the understanding and Unci if things better than 
itself. . . not so much that it might perpetuate their 
beauty for me as that it might reveal that beauty 
to me. 

marcel proust, discussing the paintings 
of Elstir in The Guermantes Way 2 

In 1947 Albers began what later came to be known, 
by a public more familiar with the Homages, as his 
"other" series. The artist's own nomenclature for them 
is the Adobes or Variants. In the Variants, of which he 
painted perhaps a hundred, he carried further than ever 
before his idea of a series of works in which the form 
remains constant or alters only slightly but the colors 
change radically. Albers had long taken multiple 
approaches to the same problem, but now his system- 
atic pursuit of a single structure reached a new level. 
Albers was driving at certain points in these paintings. 
A change of colors transforms both the emotional 
character and the apparent physical action of forms. 
Two paintings of identical format with different color 
schemes can have radically different effects. Colors 
alter their appearance according to their surroundings; 
a green has one appearance in a sea of pink, and a very 
different one when it abuts somber browns and grays. 
In the Variants Albers demonstrated techniques he had 
used in earlier work and which he was increasingly 
bent on inculcating in his students. These included the 
application of unmixed colors, straight out of the tube, 
directly on the white background but never on top of 
other colors, to create the illusion of transparency. The 
creation of this illusory transparency was the goal of 
an exercise in Albers's color course in which the 
students' task was to find the right "middle" colors to 
give the false impression that a veil-like band was lying 
on top of other forms. He had earlier shown his own 
mastery of this in Flying (cat. no. 94) and would later 



write about it in Interaction of Color. The Variants also 
demonstrate that incompatible forms of motion can 
appear to occur simultaneously. Many of the config- 
urations in these paintings appear to oscillate forward 
and backward, left and right along the picture plane 
and away from it into mysterious depths. Clearly, to 
contradict reality and induce the viewer's disbelief was 
part of the artist's continuing mission. 

Albers devised systems which he used to call "my 
madness, my insanity" for the different Variant for- 
mats. Most are based on formulas of the type that 
underlies the Bent Black paintings. According to these 
systems there are virtually equal quantities of each 
color, or, in some cases, equal amounts of three colors 
and precisely half as much of two others. It was not 
Albers's intention, however, for viewers to recognize 
his formulas. Rather they were to think they saw more 
green than blue or more yellow than gray even if this 
were not true. The idea is that perception and truth are 
not the same. This is because of the superiority of color. 
A devout missionary of the power of color, Albers 
studied its possibilities and gave it as effective a voice 
as he could develop. He had learned that color can 
deceive; it has qualities that enable it to give the 
impression that there is more or less of it than is 
actually present. 

Albers's art both reflected his pedagogy and nourished 
it. Some of the concepts it reveals were byproducts of 
the purely aesthetic decisions that went into its making. 
And although the works make certain points, they are 
far more than exercises. It is not primarily their 
demonstration of fascinating principles, but above all 
their formal grace and dramatic color juxtapositions, 
their enticing blend of serenity and animation, that 
beckon us. If the Variants serve as exemplars of 
theories, they do so in forms rich in artistic values. The 
frontal stance of their forms, immobile and fluid at the 
same time, and their effect as reduced reliefs, which 
recalls the shallow bas-reliefs of the sandblasted glass- 
constructions, transfix us. 

Consider Variant: Harboured, 1947-52 (cat. no. 182). 




Josef Albers 

Variant: Harboured (detail of reverse). 1947-52 

Collection Don Page, New York 



First, from the back (fig. n), we can learn about its 
technical makeup, and hence its didactic side. Here 
Albers, in very neat small script, wrote his recipe. To 
begin, there were four coats of white, with varnish 
mixed in. Then came the colors. Starting with the large 
pinkish area and working outward, there are 1) mix- 
ture of cadmium red light and zinc white, 2) mixture 
of Alizarin cadmium and zinc white, 3 ) Venetian red, 
4) Reilly's Gray #5 and 5) yellow ochre light on top of 
Reilly's Gray #4. The list has several unusual, although 
not unique, elements. Two of the colors are mixtures- 
because Albers found that to obtain certain pinks and 
lavenders he could not use paints straight from the 
tube but needed to combine a darker color with zinc 
white. Then there is the overpainting of the fifth color. 
In a study for Harboured Albers had used only the 



gray in the outermost area; in the course of working 
on the final painting he must have decided he wanted 
to try something else. He frequently changed his mind 
in this way; in many works, especially Homages, 
Albers painted one color on top of another. For all the 
preparation and careful planning, he remained recep- 
tive to change, his eye always dictating his ultimate 
decisions as he proceeded. 

The breakdown of units follows the listing of colors on 
the reverse of the picture. The painting is twenty units 
high, thirty wide; each measures two by two centime- 
ters. There are seventy-five units each of colors " i " and 
"z"; one hundred and fifty units each of the remaining 
three. It is as precise as the contents of a chemist's flask. 
The owner of Harboured, a highly astute graphic 
designer who had studied with both Anni and Josef 
Albers at Black Mountain College, did not know about 
the system for all the years he possessed the painting, 
before we examined its reverse in preparation for this 
exhibition. He always felt its proportionate Tightness 
without understanding the precise origins of that 
quality. Nothing would have pleased Albers more. The 
artist did not want the reading of the method to 
interfere with the pleasure of looking: knowledge 
should not obstruct experience. He did not want to 
make visible the nuances of his technique any more 
than he wished to bare his psyche. Discretion and 
understatement marked the means through which he 
suggested the otherness, the virtually inexplicable sense 
of depth and the unknown, crucial to his art. 

The results of Albers's premeditation are especially 
pungent in Harboured. A beacon of light shines out at 
us. The pink and orange, played against the darker 
brown, gray and gold, radiate luminosity like that of 
the opaque glass constructions, where reflected light 
seems to come from behind. That resonant light is a 
key to the character of Albers's art. Scientific research 
in the 1980s has revealed the positive effects of light on 
the pysche, the perils of the long dark Scandinavian 
winter, the human need for exposure to sunshine and 
for brightness inside the home. Light is a positive. 



uplifting force. It is invigorating, in part because we 
associate it with the sun: the source of earthly growth, 
the parent of our world. And it is central to all of Josef 
Albers's work. He had investigated light in his glass 
constructions, and he continued to use it as an essential 
element in his paintings from then on. 

He craved light in his working situation. He was so 
desperate for it that, rather than subject himself to the 
uncertainties of the natural world (which might have 
forced him, like Bonnard, to forgo painting on dark 
days) he painted-at least from the time of his move to 
New Haven in 1950-inside a studio where he was 
assured of an ideal brightness. He invariably executed 
the Homages to the Square under fluorescent lights. 
The paintings lay flat on simple work tables-four- by 
eight-foot plywood panels on sawhorses. Over one 
table the fluorescent bulbs were arranged warm, cold, 
warm, cold; over the other they were warm, warm, 
cold, cold. He wanted to see each painting under 
different, but always highly luminous, conditions. 
Presumably he did the Variants, as well as his earlier 
work, in a comparably controlled situation. Although 
his paintings do in fact look best in natural daylight, 
Albers would not allow his working method to fall 
victim to its vicissitudes. 

Clear light was imperative to more than Albers's 
process. It is always present in the finished art as well. 
Even when Albers worked exclusively in blacks and 
dark grays -as he did in several Variants and many 
Homages -at least one of the grays is luminous. And 
often the blackest of blacks is radiant as well. To have 
used darker tones entirely without luminosity would 
have produced a negative feeling antithetical to Albers's 
approach. The light physical nature of the forms 
parallels the luminosity of the tones. Heaviness would 
have denoted encumbrance. Murky colors or weights 
masses would have suggested internal doubt or a 
bowing to external forces. The function of art was to 
provide an alternative to uncertitude or negativism, to 
surmount rather than succumb. 
The luminous character of Albers's paintings 



spiritualizes them. It elevates them from the mundane 
to the celestial plane. Their iconic ' presence also en- 
hances their other-worldly aspect. In a century when 
many artistic movements and trends in thought have 
stressed a probing of the self, Albers's work is geared 
toward transcendence. 

In his Variants and Homages Albers investigated the 
saturation of colors, a theme he would also explore in 
Interaction of Color. The pink and orange of Har- 
boured have comparable degrees of saturation, differ- 
ent as their hues are. The reason the two colors appear 
equally bright may be that they contain similar propor- 
tions of zinc white. Because they are the same intensity, 
the boundaries where they abut one another are almost 
illegible. A bloom occurs at their junctures. They are 
like lovers, radiant on their own and glowing even more 
fiercely at all their points of contact. On the other hand, 
the boundaries between pink and brown and orange 
and brown are distinct. That brown is like some sort 
of serious, mature container for the romantic pair of 
brighter colors. 

In Harboured Albers also pointedly demonstrated the 
way that colors change according to their surround- 
ings-another concept he was to pursue in depth in 
Interaction. It is hard to believe that the central vertical 
rectangles and the horizontal gray band nearer the 
perimeters of the picture are the identical color. But 
that is the fact. The illusion occurs because the gray 
looks greener when it is surrounded by pink. Not only 
does the hue of the gray change in relation to its 
neighbors, but so does its apparent spatial position: it 
seems closer to the picture plane in those vertical 
rectangles than it does in the broader horizontal 
expanse, where it reads as background. 



Anni and Josef Albers left Black Mountain College in 
1949. The atmosphere of the school had soured, with 
intense feuding within the administration, and the 
Alberses tendered their resignations. After a year in 



New York Josef made the last of the three major moves 
of his life: to New Haven, where he took a position as 
head of the department of design at Yale University. 
He was sixty-two years old. In the twenty-six years that 
remained to him, he would achieve more as a painter, 
teacher and writer than ever before. In the year of his 
move to a city laid out in the seventeenth century with 
a carefully gridded square at its core, he began the 
Homages to the Square on which he would work 
forever after. For almost a decade his name became 
synonymous with the Yale University School of Art, 
and he had an indelible effect on thousands of students 
there. Whether they went on to become professional 
artists, architects or designers, or entered totally 
unrelated fields, they give repeated testimony that his 
color and drawing courses and the impact of his 
personality made an unparalleled educational experi- 
ence. Albers gave up full-time teaching in 1958-once 
again under some duress-but he remained in the New 
Haven area and retained peripheral affiliations with 
Yale for the rest of his life. The most important ongoing 
link with the university was his work with Yale 
University Press on Interaction of Color. 
It was after his retirement from teaching that Albers 
could fully devote himself to painting. He became far 
more prolific. He designed record covers, fireplaces 
and murals. He also made numerous Homages in 
virtually every possible print medium, and developed 
and wrote about his Structural Constellations. He 
published other books and essays. And in time he had 
what was virtually a full-time job with the pleasures 
and tribulations of celebrity: the visiting photog- 
raphers (Henri Carrier-Bresson, Arnold Newman and 
Snowdon among them) and interviewers, the corre- 
spondence and a stream of exhibitions. His modus 
operandi for almost all of his dealings with the world 
were his own long handwritten letters-ever careful and 
gracious-and a clear-headed and endlessly accom- 
modating wife. 

He continued to paint Valiants until 1955, after which 
he only took up the theme on a few rare occasions. But 



"£ar/y Ode " 



JHm>**-s \<9 Qt, 



Josef Albers 

Homage to the Square: Early Ode 

(detail of reverse). 1962 

Collection Maria and Conrad fanis. 

Beverlv Hills 



in the Homages he maintained some of their central 
themes. One was the mutability of color perception. 
Albers sometimes made two Homages with identical 
colors in the central and outermost squares and 
different colors in the interval between them. The 
intervening colors make the identical colors look 
totally different from one another. If we compare Early 
Ode, 1962, with Arrival, [963 (cat. nos. 221, 222), we 
would scarcely surmise that the central and outermost 
squares of the two paintings are precisely the same 
color, but Albers's notations prove that they are. In the 
Homages, as in the Variants, Albers always listed all 
his colors, with their manufacturers' names, on the 
reverse of each panel (see fig. 12). In both Early Ode 
and Arrival, the middle square is a Cadmium Yellow 
Pale manufactured by Blockex, the largest square a 
Chapin Neutral I from Shiva. Since the two works 
were done within a year of each other, we assume that 



the paints were from the same batches, perhaps even 
the same tubes. 

Despite the similarity of color, the paintings produce 
very different effects. Early Ode gains its haunting 
presence from the mysterious, luminous yellow that 
seems the perfect middle tone between the cadmium 
and the gray. In a certain light, that yellow almost 
disappears into the gray. Arrival has more of a look of 
victory to it, thanks largely to the two bold and weighty 
colors that separate the same cadmium and gray. You 
can have the same starting and end points, but if you 
alter the internal course, everything changes with it. In 
Arrival the colors appear to move in and out, in 
accordion fashion. In Early Ode, however, the second 
square out from the middle of the picture appears to 
be a tissue, which seems alternately to lie over and 
under the central square. In truth, each color has been 
painted directly on the white ground, in accordance 
with Albers's self-imposed rule that he must never put 
one square on top of another. (He did, however, 
sometimes repaint single squares.) Yet it looks as if a 
thin film, held taut in space, keeps shifting from a 
position in front of the cadmium yellow pale to a place 
behind it. Morever forms seem at one moment to be 
translucent, at another opaque, a play of the type that 
Albers first explored in the glass construction Steps, 
T931 (cat. no. 96). Albers must have looked far 
and wide and done countless blotting paper studies 
(see cat. nos. 192, 194-199) to find the Schewingen 
Yellow Light, made by Old Holland, that would 
achieve this perpetual motion and transformation. 

Nowhere is the effect of a single color on its neighbor- 
ing ones more astounding than in the diptych Despite 
Mist, 1967 (cat. no. 245). In this pair of paintings, 
which Albers hinged together (giving them their altar- 
piece-like quality as well as coupling them perma- 
nently), all the elements except for the outermost 
squares are identical. There are no variations what- 
soever in size, format or the middle and second colors, 
although under most light conditions this seems 
unbelievable. Not only do the tones in the interior of 
the composition look entirely different in the two 



paintings, but the movement, shapes (the degree to 
which the corners appear rounded) and internal prop- 
ortions of the squares also seem to change. That 
someone could take paints called "Optic Gray #i 
Warm" and "Optic Gray #i Cool," both made by 
Marabii, and so thoroughly alter their appearance by 
placing them next to either Chapin Neutral #i by 
Shiva (on the left) and Reilly's Gray #8 by Grum- 
bacher (on the right) is testimony not only to diligence 
and craft, but also to imagination and faith. 

Sometimes two Homages vary only in the order in 
which sequences of identical colors have been painted. 
In Tenacious, 1969, and Warm Silence, 1971 (cat. nos. 
225, 226), which hang as a pair in a private New York 
collection, the same four yellows are painted in pre- 
cisely reverse order. This reversal yields more than the 
simple transformation one might anticipate, which is 
that the central square seems to be closest to the viewer 
in one painting and furthest away in the other. Not 
only does this directional difference occur, but, addi- 
tionally, identical paints appear to be very different 
colors solely because their position has changed. The 
Cadmium Yellow Pale by Rembrandt in the center of 
Tenacious scarcely resembles the same paint in the 
outermost square of Warm Silence. Similarly, the 
Naples Yellow by Blockex that forms the border in 
Tenacious looks different in the middle of Warm 
Silence. Moreover, the sizes of the squares in Tenacious 
and Warm Silence, although the same, appear at odds. 
And the paintings have two very different emotional 
climates, the essential characters of which are conveyed 
by their titles, which Albers gave to his works after the}' 
were completed. 



In an essay on Italo Calvino, Gore Vidal quotes from 
an Italian television interview that took place shortly 
before the novelist's death. Calvino claimed that, 
"Only a certain prosaic solidity can give birth to 
creativity; fantasy is like jam; you have to spread it on 
a solid piece of bread. If not, it remains a shapeless 
thing, like jam, out of which you can't make any- 



thing." j0 Albers's precise manipulation of paints on 
those unyielding Masonite panels was his "prosaic 
solidity." It gave birth not only to fantasy, but also to 
considerable spirituality and philosophical complexity. 
First of all color behavior can be compared to human 
behavior. People, like colors, have one appearance 
when they are alone, another when they are with a 
group of family members whom they resemble physi- 
cally and psychologically, and yet another when they 
are surrounded by strangers. Their relatives often 
mitigate their distinctiveness, while foreign visitors can 
intensify the dominance of certain characteristics by 
contrast. Even if people themselves do not change, our 
view of them, just like our perception of colors, varies 
according to their surroundings. 
Additionally the work suggests, with powerful effect, 
the compatibility of contradictions. The Variants, 
emphatically horizontal in both their overall dimen- 
sions and in the narrow, rectangular bands that sweep 
across their broad surfaces, are given an upward lift by 
the two central vertical rectangles that resemble twin 
doors. That lilt, by putting a springy bounce into a 
gentle sweep, interjects cheer into sobriety. Pensive 
forms -they suggest furrowed eyebrows and a creased 
brow— are full of laughter. Viewing the Variants and 
the Homages as well, we experience a sense of over- 
whelming calm, a repose that is especially effective 
because it is very light-hearted. High spirits coexist 
with solemnity. What is phlegmatic is also fiery; what 
is somber, playful. 

In both the Variants and the Homages, not only- 
opposite moods but also irreconcilable motions 
coexist. We feel stretched across that picture plane, our 
arms pulled taut; at the same time we are pulled 
upward. We are looking at a two-dimensional object, 
its single flat plane carefully subdivided and decorated, 
yet suddenly we find ourselves pursuing a complicated 
course through a proscenium stage. We move inward 
and outward at the same time, then simultaneously left 
and right. With color too there is a confluence of 
opposites. Albers might juxtapose a midnight black 
with the blue of a noonday sky, a cold, distinctly 




Pablo Picasso 
Guitar. [912 

Charcoal on paper, 1S 1 2 \ 24 3 /s" 
Collection The Museum of Modern 
Art, New York, fractional gift of Mr. and 
Mrs. Donald B. Marron 



manmade steely gray with a verdant green and a sunny- 
yellow. Art was to accomplish what nature could not. 

Irreconcilable elements are also joined in a body of 
work of 1949 to 1976 which Albers called his Struc- 
tural Constellations or Linear Constructions (see cat. 
nos. 171-176). These are discussed by Neal Benezra 
and Charles Rickart in their essays in this catalogue. ' 
This series is to the Graphic Tectonics and some of the 
other earlier geometric prints and drawings as the 
Homages to the Square are to the paintings that 
precede them: a further development, in the most 
reductive form possible, of ideas with which the artist 
had long been grappling. As Albers said in an interview 
with the English critic Paul Overy, "Though my 
paintings and linear constructions are not connected, 
they stem from the same attitude, the same urge to 
achieve from a minimum of effort a quantitum of 
effect. While I was still teaching in Europe, I used to 
say to my students, 'Do less in order to do more.'"' 2 
In the Structural Constellations he pursued linear 
geometry in a more refined format than ever before. He 
devised a system based on minimal variables and 



subsequently worked on it diligently for over two 
decades. It took form first in rough working sketches, 
and then in large drawings, embossed prints (white on 
white, white on black, white on gray), white-line 
engravings on black Vinylite, prints made from en- 
graved brass and large architectural commissions. The 
subject is always ambivalent forms, which simultane- 
ously appear to be flat and three-dimensional and are 
penetrated in a variety of incompatible ways. 
In offering multiple approaches to the picture space, 
these Structural Constellations descend directly from 
Cubism. Like Picasso's 1912 drawing Guitar (fig. 13), 
they use simple, well-drawn, unmodulated lines to 
make planes that shift perpetually and forms that 
appear to unfold first one way and then another. The 
discrepancies seem both like magic and like accurate 
reflections of the variables in the human grasp of 
reality, psychological and physical. Both Picasso and 
Albers questioned the nature of all perception. They 
discarded old notions of truth and standard ideas about 
vision. And both artists took a formal approach to 
their themes, developing a sequence of internal 



parallels and echoes and a careful balance of elements 
that impart unity and serenity to the disrupted subject. 
Because the spatial configurations in the Constellations 
appear to change constantly, volumes become weight- 
less. Here Albers seems to have started out earthbound 
and then moved heavenward; having first given us 
implicitly weighty three-dimensional bodies, he makes 
them float. The transformation through which masses 
are rendered weightless, and the interjection of move- 
ment into static objects, were among Albers's constant 
preoccupations. In the sandblasted glass works he had 
countered the heavy mass of the materials with the 
effects of light. In the Variants and the Homages he 
began by methodically applying paint grounded to the 
panel, but subsequently made the forms buoyant and 
the colors ethereal. This negation of weight and mass 
both establishes and denies such physical properties, 
the sort of contradiction essential to Albers's achieve- 
ment of poetry through the application of overtly 
scientific means. 

The Homages have their feet on the earth and their 
heads in the cosmos thanks to their 1:2:3 formats. The 
central, or first, square is like a seed: the heart of the 
matter, the core from which everything emanates. The 
intervals underneath that first square, created by either 
two or three larger outlying squares, are doubled to the 
left and right of it and tripled above it. In the four- 
square format, for example, which is ten units wide 
and high, the middle square is four units wide, each of 
the outer squares is half a unit wide underneath the 
middle square, one unit wide at left and right and one 
and a half units high above. In The Power of the Center, 
Rudolf Arnheim explores the ways this ratio shifts the 
normal balance of earthly (horizontal) and heavenly 
(vertical) elements of a single square in favor of the 
heavenly. "This asymmetry produces the dynamics of 
the theme, a squeezing below, an expansion above. It 
promotes a depth effect, which would be counteracted 
if all the squares were grouped symmetrically around 
the same center." The asymmetry is sub'tle-the squares 
are almost centered -so consequently the upward 
thrust is gradual rather than pronounced. Thus the 



spiritual element is achieved with a soft voice rather 
than a loud shout. Like all true spirituality, Albers's is 
achieved in poignant, muted tones, rather than with 
evangelical ardor. 

In analyzing the ascendant quality of the Homages, 
Arnheim points out that if we follow the four diagonals 
created by the corners of the squares within squares, 
the}- converge on a point precisely one quarter of the 
way up the painting. The diagonals created by drawing 
lines through only the two bottom sets of corners and 
carrying those lines all the way across the panel make 
an X that demarcates the rectangle that is the lower 
half of the composition. "A solid base is thereby 
provided on which the sequence of squares can rise 
with confidence from step to step -not so different 
from the coffin in Piero's Resurrection, from which the 
movement toward heaven takes off." 00 This strong 
foundation is similar to the waves in a seascape by 
Courbet; its submission to gravity emphasizes the 
weightlessness above. 

Like the image of a cathedral on the original Bauhaus 
brochure which beckoned Albers to Weimar, his Hom- 
ages to the Square have massive, sanctuary-like bodies 
and the attributes of steeples. In buildings and paint- 
ings alike, there is a mix of solid craft with philosophi- 
cal concerns. That blend of factuality and spirituality 
parallels the issues of mortality and immortality that 
loomed large for Albers in his later years. Determinedly 
anti-Bohemian, in persona he was the honest 
craftsman, clean shaven and well scrubbed, dressed in 
neat, almost uniform-like clothing (mostly drip-dry 
grays and beiges). In 1950, when he and Anni moved 
to New Haven so that he could take his teaching 
position at Yale, they chose a small Cape Cod style 
house that looked like everyone else's: a no nonsense 
place good for living and working. Twenty years later, 
when they were more affluent and able to enjoy the 
rewards of the art boom of the 1960s, they simply 
moved to a slightly larger raised ranch on a quiet 
suburban street a few miles away, convenient to a 
cemetery plot they selected so that after the first one 
died the other could drive by on the way to the post 



office. But the matter-of-fact Albers knew well that 
through his achievement he was guaranteed a degree 
of immortality. Returning to Catholicism in his late 
years, he may well have believed that not only his art 
but also his soul would outlive his body. He lived as 
austerely as a monk; and like a monk he thought often 
of the afterlife. The words of George Eliot-'it is 
strange how deeply colours seem to penetrate one, like 
scent. . . .They look like fragments of heaven" l4 -might 
describe his state of mind. 

The world beyond our individual earthly existence was 
in Albers's thoughts when he made a blue green 
Homage in 1976 (cat. no. 246), some two months 
before his eighty-eighth birthday and his death a week 
later. By the time he made this Homage he was working 
on very few paintings-his hand was too unsteady, so 
he focused more on printmaking-but he did this panel 
as a study for an Aubusson tapestry that had been 
commissioned for a bank in Sydney, Australia. 

I discussed the painting with Albers on several occa- 
sions. He told me that he had one problem with it. He 
had found a combination of his chosen colors that 
interacted perfectly in an Homage format when the 
central square was four (out often) units wide, but that 
did not work as well in the format with a larger (six- 
unit wide) central square. Showing me studies of halves 
of these paintings (he often worked in half Homages, 
especially when designing prints or tapestries), he 
explained that, in the version with the larger middle, 
"downstairs" was fine, but not "upstairs." He wanted 
both a spatial flow and a color "intersection." Albers 
described this intersection in Interaction of Color. It is 
the process by which a correctly selected color lying 
between two other colors takes on the appearance of 
both of those colors. When colors properly intersect in 
a three-square Homage, the color of the innermost 
square will appear toward the outer boundary of the 
second square out. The color of the outermost square 
will also appear within the second square, toward its 
inner boundary. "The middle color plays the role of 
both mixture parents, presenting them in reversed 
placement." 35 This is entirely illusory. The second 



square is not in fact a mixture, but is paint straight 
from the tube, applied flatly. It is just that at a distance 
our perception tells us that it is modulated, and that 
some of the first and third colors are visible within it. 
Albers then pointed to the version with the small 
central square. Here the intersection occurred, but he 
was not satisfied. Moving his hand over the sky blue 
center, and then over the more terrestrial forest green 
and the sea-like aqua surrounding it, he explained that 
these colors were the earth and the cosmos, the cosmos 
being in the center. In the version with the smaller 
middle, the cosmos was too distant. 
While the earlier Homages generally depend on sharp 
light-dark contrasts, the later ones are more subtle, 
with closely related hues. Here Albers's development 
parallels that of Cezanne and Monet, who in their late 
work also moved toward hazy, atmospheric effects. In 
the version of this last blue green painting with the 
larger middle, Albers wanted all boundaries and edges 
virtually to disappear. Additionally, there should be no 
sharp corners on the inner square. (He said that 
Cartier-Bresson once told him that he made "circular 
squares," which delighted him.) To achieve these effects 
he needed to find colors with the identical light 
intensity. The cosmos should have neither sharp boun- 
daries nor corners. 

He said that even the supreme colorist Turner had never 
been able to match light intensities exactly. Yet by 
making studies with painted blotting paper, Albers 
found precisely the paint he needed for the middle 
square. With Winsor Newton Cobalt Green, code 
number 191, he could obtain both his desired inter- 
section and the match of light intensities. At that 
moment, however, the only Winsor Newton Cobalt 
Green available was from a newer batch, code number 
205. He admired the paint company for changing the 
code number to indicate a change in the pigment, but 
was frustrated not to be able to duplicate a paint that 
had been discontinued several years earlier. After some 
searching, however, he found a supplier with some old 
tubes of 192, and he made the painting. The inter- 
section he achieved is like magic. Looking at that 



Homage with me, Albers demonstrated it by interlock- 
ing all of his fingers, and praised the ability of the outer 
and inner squares to span the middle color. Again he 
spoke of the need of "the universe" (here rather than 
"the cosmos") to be immaterial and without bound- 
aries. This was his last painting. 



Calvino wrote of his character Marcovaldo: 

He would never miss a leaf yellowing on a branch, 
a feather trapped by a roof-tile; there was no 
horsefly on a horse's hack, no worm-hole in a 
plank, or fig-peel squashed on the sidewalk that 
Marcovaldo didn't remark and ponder over, dis- 
covering the changes of the season, the yearnings 
of his heart:"" 
There is no color tone or scrap of line that Albers did 
not see as full of latent meaning, evocative of mood 
and spirit, able to exert a decisive, life-altering effect on 
another color or line. Detail and nuance were his 
deepest nourishment. Calmly and systematically recep- 
tive, like Morandi looking at bottles, he found mul- 
titude and stability in a few forms. 
We cannot label him. "Constructivist," "Father of Op 
Art," much used, do Albers a disservice. We should 
apply his understanding of color to our understanding 
of him; words, and the attempt to pinpoint diversity, 
fall short. All that is certain is variability. Albers used 
to say that no two people pictured the same thing upon 
hearing the word "red." Like the controls of language, 
all of Albers's precise systems were only a guide to, and 
a celebration of, mystery. To accept ambiguity and revel 
in it is the great message of his poetry of the laboratory. 
If Albers did not belong to any group of artists, he was, 
nevertheless, not without his artistic soulmates. In 
addition to his affinities with Klee and Mondrian, he 
had links with some Russian Suprematists. Kazimir 
Malevich's paintings of squares, which were illustrated 
in Bauhaus publications, may have influenced him 
slightly. The way Malevich juxtaposed solid squares 
and emphasized the beauty of their form by isolating 
them may have inspired him (figs. 14, 15). But the 



14 Kazimir Malevich 

Suprematist Composition: White on White. 1918? 

Oil on canvas, 3 1 Vi x 3 1 Va" 

Collection The Museum of Modern Art, New York 





15 Kazimir Malevich 

Suprematist Composition: Red Square ami 

Black Square. 1914 or 1915? 

Oil on canvas, 28 x ijVi" 

Collection The Museum of Modern An, 

New York 



Russian and Albers used the motif to very different 
purposes. For Malevich the square was a full stop, a 
reduction ism; tor Albers it was a tool, a device to serve 
the revelation of color, a stepping stone to vast riches. 
In fact, the Homages descend more from Renaissance 
precedents than from revolutionary twentieth-century 
movements which attempted to sever ties with the 
artistic past. The calm and balance of Albers's harmoni- 
ous arrangements, and their combination of elegant 
frontality and spatial progression, gives them some of 
the feeling of fifteenth-century Madonnas. Their tradi- 
tional base separates them not only from more modern 
idioms such as Suprematism but also from the 
Minimalism of the 1960s and from contemporary 
hard-edge abstraction with which it is often linked. So 
too does its use of spare geometric form as a device 
more than an end product. Today it is a cliche of 
museum installation to hang Homages to the Square 
in the same room as paintings from the 1960s by Frank 
Stella, Ellsworth Kelly, Kenneth Noland and other 
hard-edge artists. For a number of reasons Albers's art 
looks out of place in juxtaposition to theirs. Paul Overy 
commented that it was "ironic" that Albers was shown 
with Minimalists in an American festival in London in 
1986: 

Albers lived in America for nearly half of his long 
life and taught a whole generation of American 
painters. Vet his work remained strongly European 
in its "relational" qualities and, even though he 
used a "centered image", the way he placed the 
bottom edges of the squares closer together 
created effects quite different from the symmetri- 
cal 1960s work of Stella and Jadd. Albers applied 
his paint with a palette knife and deliberately left 
the edges rough, with a tooth for the interacting 
colours to bite on one another. He never used 
masking tape and his works are not hard edged 
(except in reproduction). The largest paintings are 
about three and a half feet square; small by 
American standards. The values they affirm are 
not American values but European. 37 



The Homages do not belong to any one movement but 
are an individual and unusual expression of a familiar 
human drive. Gombridh sees them as unique embodi- 
ments of the "economy of means that is one of the 
driving forces of art works" throughout history. He 
feels that some of Albers's objectives only came to the 
fore in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries 
when the Beuronschule began to emphasize monumen- 
tality and proportion and Hodler became interested in 
parallelism and formal organization. However, he 
maintains that the driving force behind the Homages 
to the Square and Albers's other series is timeless and 
universal. These works derive from "the interest in 
producing constraints and then overpowering them. 
You have to concentrate and see just how much you 
can make of an element or elements." This is a tradi- 
tion that exists in both music and the decorative arts, 
and has "parallels in poetry also." Gombrich compares 
Albers to a Mogul Emperor who spent his whole life 
making variations on two lines. Both were devoted to 
"this problem of how much to get out of simple 
elements; the making of permutations of every kind, 
in order to prove them inexhaustible." 
Albers was fond of saying that he descended from 
Adam, and in some ways the Homages go all the way 
back to the cave paintings at Lascaux. There too we 
find only three colors: yellow, red and black. In the 
Homages, of course, Albers reduced his palette by 
choice rather than necessity, selecting his three or four 
hues from a reserve of thousands. Happier with some 
of the limitations of the early cave-dweller, he was not 
unlike those of us who head for mountain tops-where 
only the contents of our knapsack, rather than the 
abundance of supermarkets, are available. 
The generalized Homages are "everyman," and Albers 
was everyman, reduced to essentials like the ancient 
cave-artist with his oil lamp, facing the gritty reality of 
a coarse surface. In the caves at Lascaux as on the 
rough side of the Masonite panels on which Albers 
worked, the variegated surface gives the colors richness 
and variation, and lends a crucial irregularity to both 
the textures and the edges of forms. In that irregularity, 




16 Paul Cezanne 

Le Chateau Noir. 1904-06 

Oil on canvas, 29 x j6 3 A" 

( ollection The Museum of Modern Art, 

New York, gift of Mrs. David M. Levy 



and in the sturdy application of paint on top of it, is 
the kernel of the humanity of the work. It gives both 
the paintings at Lascaux and the Homages to the 
Square an intensity that suggests that the artist's life 
depended on his ability to make images. Albers, like 
the cavemen, grasped at visual experience as a source 
of the truth underlying human existence. Part of the 
power of his vision is that it is clearly the product of 
the most pressing and urgent necessity. 



The Homages descend more directly from Cezanne's 
example than from any other: by Albers's own admis- 
sion Cezanne was the key figure in his development. In 
works like Le Chateau Noir (fig. 16) Cezanne in 
essence presented three planes of color, all parallel to 
the picture plane, and he used the properties of color 
to hold each plane in space. But in spite of these links 
Cezanne's and Albers's goals were not the same. The 
Frenchman sought to capture the natural world -and 
so in his painting the green clearly signifies the fore- 
ground, and the tan helps place the chateau-firmly in 



the middleground, while Albers's colors occupy 
abstract, nonrepresentational form so as to create an 
other-worldly reality in which planes constantly shift 
position. But each artist devised a space that is foreshort- 
ened and compressed yet suggests depth, and each 
employed planes that are both frontal and recessive. In 
Le Chateau Noir, the sky does a suprisingly Albersian 
thing: it moves up and back and in and out-the way 
the sky, which is everywhere, really does. Cezanne's 
focus on the technique of painting, like Albers's, yields 
the unfathomable mysteries that nature ultimately 
offers. Moreover, Cezanne's rough surfaces, along with 
Albers's well-worked painted planes, receive light; like 
the artists themselves, they do not hold forth so much 
as respond. 

The poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote of Cezanne's work, 
"As if these colors could heal one of indecision once 
and for all. The good conscience of these reds, these 
blues, their simple truthfulness, it educates you; and if 
you stand beneath them as acceptingly as possible, it's 
as if they were doing something for you." 38 Rilke 
visited the 1907 Cezanne exhibition in Paris time and 



again— with a vehemence comparable to the ardor that 
Albers felt when he returned daily to his square panels 
and tubes of paint-and observed: 

You also notice, a little more clearly each tune, 

bow necessary it was to go beyond love, too; it's 

natural, after all, to lore each of these things as 

one makes it: but if one shows this, one nukes it 

less well; one judges it instead of saying it. . . . This 

labor which no longer knew any preferences or 

biases or fastidious predilections, whose minutest 

component has been tested on the scales of an 

infinitely responsive conscience, and which so 

incorruptibly reduced a reality to its color content 

that it resumed a new existence in a beyond of 

color, without any previous memories. 39 

Rilke's intensity and Cezanne's visual connoisseurship 

and the resultant distillations are in ways comparable 

to Albers's own. Indeed the colors of the Homages do 

have a "simple truthfulness," and do "educate you." 

Their confidence and decisiveness penetrate us. Here is 

the art of someone who overcame normal human 

ambivalence, who followed the advice he frequently 

gave to his students-"Don't jump on bandwagons. Sit 

on your own behinds"-and found both his own 

methods and course. 

Here, too, is an art devoid of memories. Describing 
timeless phenomena, it transcends individualism. It 
reveals color rather than opinions about color. The 
Homages become, in a generalized way, living beings. 
As such, like much great late work, they grapple with 
ultimate, essential truths. Grounded solidly in their 
craft, they touch upon sublime mysteries. Stripped 
bare, they caused minimal disruption between the 
communicator and the means of communication. They 
conquered the gap between speaker and statement, 
between writer and words, between painter and 
medium: Josef Albers and the Homages were one. 



NOTES 

This catalogue is dedicated to Anni Alhers. Her public person is 
well known; she is a pioneering abstract textile artist, designer and 
printmaker, and an innovative writer on aesthetics. For fifty years 
she was visible as an intensely devoted, though never docile, spouse, 
a position she has retained with the much detested term "widow." 
But the role in which 1 have been lucky enough to know her is less 
familiar: that of a true and giving friend. 

Most of those who helped put together this exhibition and book 
are acknowledged in the preface. 1 must, however, single out a few 
from my point of view. The staff of the Guggenheim Museum has 
shown just how hospitable a great institution can be. Thomas M. 
Messer and Diane Waldman have been unusually gracious and 
supportive. Susan B. Hirschfeld has not only been highly efficient 
and, when it was required, supremely diplomatic, but also consist- 
ently delightful. Thomas Padon has handled an encyclopedia's worth 
of details with grace and skill. Carol Fuerstein has been perpetually 
clear-headed and flexible at the same time. Mimi Poser and her 
staff have mixed work and laughter with rare effectiveness. At the 
AJbers Foundation Kelly Feeney has not only been the most diligent 
and patient of aides-de-camp, but also unfailingly imaginative and 
good humored. And at home m\ wife Katharine has been, as always, 
supportive, witty and insightful, and our daughters Lucy and 
Charlotte full of spirited encouragement. 

My deep personal thanks also go to Lee Eastman, a patron in the 
truest sense, and to his ever gracious wife Monique. For exceptional 
support and insight I also thank Maximilian Schell, Jochen and 
Martina Moormann, Paul and Ellen Hirschland, Charles Kingsley, 
Herbert Agoos, Saul and Caroline Weber, Ulrich Schumacher, Denise 
Rene and Ruth Villalovas; for their remarkable skills and diligence 
in conservation work Patricia S. Garland, Martina Yamin and Ray 
Errett; and for countless forms of assistance Hans Farman, Phyllis 
Fitzgerald, Carroll Jams, Emma Lewis, Diana Murphy and Tim 
Nighswander. 



i Unless otherwise indicated, quotations by the artist come from 
mv conversations with Albers or from unlabeled tape record- 
ings that he left in his studio. This passage also includes some 
phrases from my translation of an interview in Jean Clay, 
Visages de l\irt moderne, Lausanne and Paris, Editions 
Rencontre, 1969, p. 67. 

1 Almost all of the dating of the early drawings is mine. I explain 
the reasoning behind it in some detail in my hook. The 
Drawings of Josef Albers, New Haven and London, Yale 
University Press, 19S4. According to my chronology, there is 
only one known drawing earlier than Farm Woman, a charm- 
ing but far less sophisticated work that Albers did when he 
was teaching in Stadtlohn. 

3 The first exhibition of the figurative prints was at the Galerie 
Goltz in Munich in 191X. Subsequent showings included the 
Y'ale University Art Gallery, New Haven (1956), the 
Westfalisches Landesmuseum fur Kunst und Kulturgeschichte 
Minister ( 1968), The Art Museum, Princeton University ( 19-1 ), 
and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1971). 



4 An essay by Margit Rowell, "On Albers' Color," Artforwn, 
vol. 10, January 1971, pp. 16-37, shows Albers's earliest prints 
and paintings alongside work h\ Munch and Delaunay. On 
his annotated copies of the article, Albers has written in large 
red letters, "Why are these together here?" next to the Munch 
comparison and "No!" after the text linking him to Delaunay. 
Werner Spies also mentions a "closeness to expressionsim" and 
a resemblance to Delauna) in his Albers, New York, Harry 
N. Abrams, Inc., 1970, p. 9. 

5 Conversation with E.H. Gombrich, London, February 2.1, 
1987- 

6 Josef Albers, "More or Less," Poems and Drawings, New York, 
George Wittenborn, Inc., 1961. 

7 Quoted in Neil Welliver, "Albers on Albers," Art News, vol. 
64, January 1966, p. 48. 

8 Quoted in Janet Flanner, "King of the Wild Beasts," The New 
Yorker, vol. XXVII, December 29, 1951, p. 40. 

9 Quoted in Eugen Gomrmger, Josef Albers, Joyce Wittenborn, 
trans., New York, George Wittenborn, Inc., 1968, p. 17. 

i o This work is identified as Lattice Painting in some of the Albers 
literature-including Rowell, "On Albers' Color," where it 
appears on the cover of the magazine-but Albers wrote the 
title Grid Mounted on the back of the frame he had made for 
it in the 1950s (which has since been removed). 

[i Statement by Kelly Feeney. Ms. Feeney is responsible for many 
of the ideas in this paragraph and the preceding one. 

12 Quoted in Welliver, "Albers on Albers," p. 50. 

13 Quoted in Michel Seuphor, Viet Mondrian: Life and Work, 
New York, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., p. 166. 

14 Ibid., p. 168. 
[5 Ibid. 

(6 Quoted in E.H. Gombrich, The Sense of < )rder, Ithaca, New 
York, Cornell University Press. [979, p. zo. 

17 George Heard Hamilton, Josef Albers-Paintings, Prints, 
Projects, exh. cat., New Haven, Yale University Art Gallery, 
1956, p. rS, and Irving Leonard Fmkelstein, The Life and 
Art of Josef Albers (Ph.D. dissertation, New York University, 
1968), Ann Arbor, Michigan, University Microfilms Interna- 
tional, 1979, p. 75, give 1926 as the date for this chair. 
However, documentation at the Bauhaus-Archiv, West'Berlin, 
as well as in various publications about the Bauhaus, date it 
as 1929. 

[8 Among those who make the claim that it was the first 
bentwood chair intended for mass production are Hamilton, 
Paintings, Prints, Projects, p. 18, and Hugh M. Davies, in "The 
Bauhaus Yeats," Josef Albers Paintings and Graphics, 1915- 
1970, exh. cat., The Art Museum, Princeton University, 1971, 
p. 8. It was Derek E. Ostergard, curator of Bent Wood and 
Metal Furniture: 1850-1946, an exhibition circulated by The 
American Federation of Arts in the United States from 
September 1986 to October [988, who led me to see otherwise. 

[9 The source of this information is Anni Albers's brother Hans 
Farman, whose memories of the Berlin exhibition, as well as 
of other aspects of his brother-in-law's life and work, have 
been extremely helpful. 

lo Letter of August z, 1975, to The Museum of Modern Art, 
New York. 

ii The present owners of the original Steps did, in fact, bring it 



to the artist's attention several years before his death. \\ lule 
he authenticated it and was apparently delighted that it was 
in good condition, Albers did not have time to change any of 
his notes on the painting, so its second reemergence, when the 
owners kindly got in touch with me before this exhibition, 
came as a surprise. 

The photographs are yet another aspect of Albers's art that 
was substantially unknown during his lifetime. Concurrent 
with this exhibition, The Photographs of Josef Albers, 
organized and circulated in the United States and Canada by 
The American Federation of Arts, presents some thirty-five 
more examples from the artist's estate. It is accompanied by 
a catalogue by John Szarkowski, Director of Photography at 
The Museum of Modern Art in New York. 
Quoted in Hans M. Wingler, The Bauhaus, Wolfgang Jabs 
and Basil Gilbert, trans., Joseph Stein, ed., Cambridge, 
Massachusetts, and London, The MIT Press, 1969, p. 188. 
Silographie recenti di Josef Allien e di Luigt Veronesi, exh. 
cat., Milan, C.allerta del Milione. Translated by Nora Lionni. 
The exhibition was on view from December 23, 1934-January 
10, 1935. 

Quoted in Gomringer, Josef Albers, p. 48. 
Ibid. 

Quoted in Weber, Drawings, p. 40. These words are from notes 
that Albers wrote to himself in February 1941 about his 
teaching of drawing. 

This phrase and the complete passage from which it is taken 
have been quoted in several publications, including Gomringer, 
Josef Albers, pp. 75-76, and Francois Bucher/Josef Albers, 
Despite Straight Lines, New Haven and London, Yale Univer- 
sity Press, 1961, pp. 10- 11. Albers wrote the passage the year 
after he completed the print series. 

Marcel Proust, The Guermantes Way, vol. z of Remembrance 
of Things Past, C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, 
trans., New York, Random House, [981, pp. IZ5-1Z6. 
Gore Vidal, "On Italo Calvino," The New York Review of 
Books, November 21, 1985, p. 3, 

They have also been analyzed in depth by the artist and 
Francois Bucher in Despite Straight Lines and by me in Draw- 
ings. 

Quoted in Paul Overy, '"Calm Down, What Happens, Hap- 
pens Mainly Without You' -Josef Albers," Art and Artists 
(London), October 1967, p. 33. 

Rudolf Arnheim, The Power of the Center, Berkeley, Los 
Angeles and London, Universit) of C alifornia Press, 1982, p. 
146. 

George Eliot, Middlemarch, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, 
England, and New York, Penguin Books, 1985, p. 35. 
Josef Albers, Interaction of Color, New Haven and London, 
Yale University Press, revised pocket edition, 1975, p. 38. 
Italo Calvino, Marcovaldo, William Weaver, trans., San Diego, 
A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 
Publishers, 1983, p. 1. 

Paul Overy, "Josef Albers," Art Monthly (London), June 1985, 
p. 9. 

Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Cezanne, Joel Agee, trans., 
New York, International Publishing C orporation, 1985^. 50. 
Rilke, Letters on Cezanne, p. 65. 



Josef Albers: Art Education at 
Black Mountain College 

MARYEMMAHARRIS 



In Berlin in the spring and summer 011933, the Nazis 
forced the closing of the Bauhaus, the innovative 
school of architecture and design founded by Walter 
Gropius in 1919. Simultaneously Black Mountain 
College was founded near Asheville, North Carolina, 
by John Andrew Rice and a group of dissident faculty 
members at Rollins College who had been fired or 
had resigned in a dispute over academic freedom. 
This coincidence was ultimately to benefit Black 
Mountain because Josef Albers, a former Bauhaus 
teacher, who had received an intimidating letter from 
the city of Dessau, would come to work at the 
American school. 

Critical to the educational philosophy of the found- 
ers of the new college was the idea that the arts 
should be at the center of the curriculum rather than 
what Albers later described as "their decorative 
sideplace." 1 They realized, however, that if they were 
to achieve their goals, the conventional teacher of 
painting and sculpture would not be sufficient. In 
their search for a new kind of teacher they were led 
to The Museum of Modern Art, where Philip 
Johnson recommended Albers, to the new college. 
Despite his warning that he could not speak English, 
Albers was invited to join the Black Mountain 
faculty. Idealistic, moralistic, dogmatic, brilliant, 
disciplined and stubborn, he remained for sixteen 
years, and his personality, teaching and ideas exerted 
a profound impact on all areas of college life. 

One summer session art teacher commented that 



every experimental college should have a German 
schoolmaster such as Albers because he encouraged 
a sense of order without dominating the school. Of 
moderate height and slim with a fair complexion and 
graying blond hair, Albers's physical presence was 
modest. He was most often seen in light-colored 
slacks and a shirt or in overalls or coveralls, the attire 
of a craftsperson or worker. He and his wife Anni, 
the distinguished weaver and writer, shared a rustic 
cottage of wood and stone with Theodore and 
Barbara Dreier and their children at the Lake Eden 
campus. The common room was furnished sparsely 
with Breuer tubular steel chairs, chairs of wood and 
leather which Albers designed, using a traditional 
Mexican chair as a model, and Constructivist 
furniture by Mary (Molly) Gregory, who taught 
woodworking. There were mats of natural materials 
and freshly cut flowers. Albers's studio, which was 
in the cottage, was off limits to students and faculty 
unless they were invited. The Black Mountain years 
were some of his most productive as an artist, and 
the demands of community life were such that he 
did not allow interruptions in those precious hours 
available for his own painting and printmaking. 
Nevertheless, aspiring art students had a chance to 
observe him pursuing the professional activities of 
an artist, such as dealing with galleries and exhibi- 
tions, and to learn from his example the dedication 
and concentration necessary for creative work. 
Albers was a member of the Board of Fellows, the 
central governing body of the college, as well as the 



committees that took care of the practical problems 
of daily living. In addition, he organized the special 
summer art sessions. 

Though separated by thousands of miles and differ- 
ent cultures, both the Bauhaus and Black Mountain 
shared a progressive, experimental, adventurous 
spirit. American technology and architecture and the 
writing of educators such as John Dewey had been 
a liberating force for the Bauhaus leaders. Yet when 
Albers arrived in America, he found a young country 
hampered in its struggle to establish its own identity 
by a confusing idealization of older, more established 
cultures, especially those of the Italian Renaissance 
and Classical Greece, and by a romantic view of the 
arts. To the progressive spirit of the founders, he 
brought the spirit of modernism, which he defined 
as an attitude toward the present time, a "significant 
contemporaneousness." In an essay entitled "Truth- 
fulness in Art," Albers insisted that the art of any- 
period is valid only to the extent that it reveals the 
spirit of the time through form: "truthfulness to art 
as spiritual creation." Objecting to a position toward 
the past that moves tradition "from a role of 
facilitation to one of inhibition," he directed the 
attention of his students to contemporary architec- 
ture, to bridges, to photography, to commercial 
typography and advertising, to abstract art and to 
early American crafts. He spent both of his sabbat- 
icals and several summers in Mexico, Central 
America and the Southwest, and the Pre-Columbian 
art of these areas had a profound impact on his art 
and his teaching. In fact he discouraged the obliga- 
tory European study period and encouraged his 
students instead to travel to Mexico. z 
The role of the arts in a culture and in education 
was a theme that was reinterpreted throughout the 
college's history. Albers recalled that when asked on 
his arrival at Black Mountain what he hoped to 

accomplish, he "uttered (better stuttered) 'to 

open eyes.' " Although he later noted that by this 
he meant "to open [the student's] eyes to the 



phenomena about him," or to allow him to see, 
clearly for Albers "seeing" encompassed the broader 
concept of "vision." He wrote of his goal, "We want 
a student who sees art as neither a beauty shop nor 
imitation of nature, as more than embellishment and 
entertainment; but as a spiritual documentation of 
life; and who sees that real art is essential life and 
essential life is art." He objected to the neglect of 
the manually oriented student in education, to the 
acquisition of knowledge as an end in itself, and to 
the emphasis on classification and systems, insisting 
that life is process and change and far more complex 
than any system. Because action is inherent in the 
creation of art forms, he felt that through the practice 
of the arts the student would develop independent 
thinking, productiveness and a creative, inventive 
approach to problem solving. "We are content," 
Albers wrote, "if our studies of form achieve an 
understanding, vision, clear conceptions, and a 
productive will." He referred to the fascist masses in 
Europe as "an uncreative crew" and made a distinc- 
tion between the person who by his example gives 
direction to the lives of others and the leader who 
needs followers. Furthermore, he wrote, "...art is a 
province in which one finds all the problems of life 
reflected — not only the problems of form (e.g. 
proportion and balance) but also spiritual problems 
(e.g. of philosophy, of religion, of sociology, of 
economy)." 3 

Critical to Albers's teaching was his perception of 
the artist as form-giver and of art as a "documenta- 
tion of human mentality through form." In a key 
statement which he began formulating soon after his 
arrival at the college and which appears in the notes 
of students, Albers summarized his ideas about the 
relationship between form and cultural values: 
Every perceivable thing has form. 

Form can be either appearance or behavior. 

But since appearance is a result of behavior, 

and behavior produces appearance, 

every form has meaning. 



The shortest formulation of this is: 
Every thing has form, 
every form has meaning. 

To understand the meaning of form, 

that is conscious seeing of and feeling for form, 

is the indispensable preliminary condition for 

culture. 
Culture is ability to select or to distinguish 
the better, that is the more meaningful form, 

the better appearance, the better behavior. 
Therefore culture is a concern with quality. 
Culture can he manifested in two ways: 

Through recognition of better form 

and through producing of better form. 
The latter direction is the way of art. 
Art as the acting part of culture 
is therefore its proof and measurement. 

The content of Albers's courses in drawing, design 
and color was "the knowledge and application of 
the fundamental laws of form"; the goal, "a sensitive 
reading of form." Albers observed that though 
"imagination and vision," both of which are essential 
to the creative process, can only be a byproduct of 
study, "discovery and invention" and "observation 
and comparison" which "aim at open eyes and 
flexible minds" can be taught. "The layman or 
spectator," he proposed, "as well as the practicing 
artist — does see, recognize, compare, judge form in 
its psychic effect. To produce form with psychic effect, 
that is form with emotional content, makes an 
artist." He argued that the general student would 
benefit more from a course in the study of the 
elements of form than one in sculpture or painting 
because "a color correctly seen and understood [is] 
more important than a mediocre still-life." 4 

At Black Mountain Albers adapted the curriculum 
of the Bauhaus, a professional art school, to general 
education. His courses offered an alternative to the 
predominant methods of art education: the Beaux- 
Arts practice of copying the art of the past, the use 



of scientific formulas, and the untutored self- 
expression encouraged by progressive educators. The 
core of the visual arts curriculum, designed for both 
the general student and the beginning art student, 
was the courses in drawing, design ( Werklehre), color 
and painting which were supplemented by projects 
in the workshops. Ideally the college would have 
offered courses in painting, printmaking, sculpture 
and other areas of the visual arts for the advanced 
student, and the workshops would have been well- 
equipped and directed by master craftspersons. The 
size and limited financial means of the college, 
however, did not allow for so large an art faculty and 
such elaborate facilities. 

The basic course that was taken by most members 
of the community, including faculty, was drawing. 
Its goal was "a disciplined education of the eye and 
hand"; its content, exact observation and pure 
representation. Beginning students were challenged 
to draw from memory the motif from their cigarette 
pack, a favorite candy bar or a soft drink to make 
them aware of how poorly trained visual memory is. 
To develop an ability for visualization — "thinking 
before speaking" — the student looked at a flat sheet 
of paper or a leaf and drew it as if it were folded on 
an imaginary axis. Exercises in mirror writing and 
in disposing — drawing an image like the meander 
again and again in the same or different sizes- 
developed motor control and visualization. In one 
exercise the students drew in the air, and in another 
they drew "blindfolded," looking only at the model. 
Quick line drawings were made to capture the 
essence of forms. Techniques such as crosshatching 
and shading and consideration of decorative ele- 
ments were left for advanced studies after the college. 
Early in his American experience, Albers came into 
conflict with local mores when some of the women 
at the college became concerned about possible 
reaction in the local community to the use of nude 
models. Though he declared that it was "all non- 
sense.. . [and] he wasn't going to let a lot of old 
women in the outside community who were nothing 



but a bunch of prudes run the College," he acceded 
and models wore shorts and halters or bathing suits. 5 
Albers defined basic design as "practicing planning," 
not "habit, dreaming, or accident (as nails dropped 
from a carpenter's pocket as he walks on a road)." 
Students explored principles of design such as 
proportion, described by Albers as the relationship 
of parts to one another and the whole, symmetrical 
and asymmetrical design, geometric and arithmetic 
progression, the Golden Mean and the Pythagorean 
theorem. Spatial studies in illusion, density, intensity, 
size and foreshortening were investigated using 
matches pasted flat on surfaces and straight pins 
applied vertically or diagonally to supports. Stream- 
lining in natural and manmade forms was discussed 
in terms of the movement of a fish through fluids, a 
drop of water through air and a knife through solids. 
Central to all of Albers's courses were the principles 
of Gestalt theory in which the image is read as a 
whole and for meaning. He was especially influenced 
by Indian designs in which the figure and what is 
usually treated as background are of equal impor- 
tance, and he challenged doubtful students to 
determine whether the zebra is a black animal with 
white stripes or white with black stripes. 6 
Albers initially called the design course Werklehrc — 
learning through doing — to distinguish it from the 
usual course which deals primarily with design's on 
paper rather than with materials. Studies of mate- 
rials—both in combination (the surface appearance 
of materials) and construction (the capacity of 
materials) — were made in direct contact with mate- 
rial, not from a textbook or at the drawing board. 
Paper was folded and scored to give it tensile 
properties. Other materials were examined for the 
structural qualities that developed as they grew, for 
surface qualities created by treating with tools, and, 
of 'greatest importance, the total surface appearance 
which Albers called matiere — "how a substance 
looks." The constant themes were relativity and 
interaction: "Matiere influences nearby matiere, as 
color influences color." Students were encouraged 



to do things to materials to give them qualities they 
do not normally have in order to extend the pos- 
sibilities of their use: "Nothing can be one thing but 
a hundred things." Students learned that "visually a 
pebble is as valuable as a diamond" and that both 
the Breuer tubular steel chair and the locally crafted 
slat-back chair represent good design and "a think- 
ing out of materials." Materials were examined for 
their tactile as well as their optical qualities. By 
juxtaposition and changes in quantity the students 
made cold materials look warm, soft materials look 
hard, and one material imitate another in appear- 
ance. The "swindel" or visual illusion was not 
trickery for its own sake but an effort to educate the 
eye "to the discrepancy between the physical fact 
and the psychic effect" and to learn new ways of 
seeing and using materials." 

Students' color notes begin with the statement, 

"COLOR IS THE MOST RELATIVE MEDIUM 

IN ART. " The themes of interaction and relativity 
and the subjective nature of one's reading were 
central to the color studies, as they were in the design 
course. Although he taught the color theories of 
Goethe, Weber-Fechner, Ostwald and others, Albers 
realized that the visual process, encompassing both 
the physical and psychic aspects of seeing as well as 
the interplay of other senses such as smell and 
hearing, is far too complex to be explained by a single 
theory. Rather than formulating a new color theory, 
he provided the tools for a better understanding of 
the nature of visual perception. In one exercise a 
single color was placed on different backgrounds to 
make it appear to be two different colors, and in 
another different colors were placed on different 
backgrounds to make them appear the same. Color 
was studied in terms of quantity, tone, placement, 
intensity, contrast, shape and repetition. In studies in 
transparency using opaque paper, the intermediate 
color created by the overlapping of two other colors 
was sought. In all color studies colored papers were 
used rather than paints, as it is too easy to mix 
pigment to achieve a certain effect and too difficult 



to re-create the same color it it is needed. The 
abundant colorful leaves of the Blue Ridge were also 
employed in both the color and design classes. 
Albers's students often were captivated by the 
exercises; however, he admonished them that "As 
knowledge of acoustics does not produce musicality, 
so knowledge of color theory does not produce art." s 
Painting, which was taught as an advanced color 
course, primarily involved the use of watercolor. Of 
this course Albers wrote, "The studies are in principle 
concerned with the relationships between color, 
form, and space. Serious painting demands serious 
study. Rembrandt, at the age of thirty, is said to have 
felt the need of twenty years of study for a certain 
color-space problem."" 

Albers was opposed to the teaching of conventional 
art history with its emphasis on classification, 
identification and chronology to beginning students. 
He posited that it was unproductive and sterile and 
"ends too often in factual description and sentimen- 
tal likes and dislikes instead of in sensitive discrimi- 
nation." Yet in his classes he constantly referred to 
works of art and architecture. He believed that the 
teacher and artist had to have a point of view — "let 
us be no all-eater, no all-reader, no all-believer, let us 
be selective instead of being curious," he said — and 
it was largely in his comments on historical monu- 
ments that his preferences and prejudices were 
revealed. Fascinated by structures, Albers was 
especially critical of the architecture of the Renais- 
sance, which he described as the "dark age of 
architecture," because it disguised structure and 
textures with decorative elements and of Baroque 
art, a style in which he observed, "the wind in the 
clothing was more important than [the] saint 
underneath." He favored medieval architecture, 
comparing it to the tectonic structure of an insect, as 
opposed to the atectonic structure of the elephant 
which shows "no bones only skin with flesh under 
it." In student notes one finds references to the 
cathedral and Loggia dei Lanzi of Florence, Santa 
Sophia, Moorish mosques, Russian onion domes 



(created to shed snow), the supports of the college 
dining hall, the structure of the Moravian star and 
the use of parallel diagonals by the Greeks, medieval 
masons and Michelangelo as well as a comparison 
of the old Stone Bridge (Steinerne Briicke) in 
Regensburg with the George Washington Bridge in 
New York." 

Albers gave "silent concerts" of slides which were 
projected with little or no commentary. One such 
lecture showed only pitchers of pottery, glass, 
aluminum and other materials. In another a series of 
Pre-Columbian sculptures was followed by a Class- 
ical Greek statue and, in still another, only methods 
of treating eyes in painting and sculpture were 
shown. Albers was interested not only in formal 
elements, but also, as exemplified by the eyes in the 
paintings of Goya, in art that offers "revelation" 
rather than "representation." Periodically he taught 
Seeing of Art, a course in which styles of painting or 
works of art were analyzed. Lectures were supple- 
mented by traveling exhibitions that came to the 
college and by shows of the work of visiting artists." 
In an application for funds for the college workshops 
in weaving, woodworking, bookbinding, photog- 
raphy and printing, Albers wrote that at Black 
Mountain art was not limited to "fine arts" but was 
defined in the broader context of design and "con- 
structive work whose basis may be any one of many- 
crafts." The student had an opportunity in the 
workshops to apply the principles studied in the 
basic courses to practical situations and to under- 
stand the underlying rules of various crafts. In an 
article on the value of the crafts to the training of 
architects, Albers argued that lack of understanding 
of both new and traditional materials in modern 
architecture "often discredited good ideas" and that 
the solution was "to integrate design with craftsman- 
ship." He objected to the rejection of machine 
products and the romantic glorification of anything 
made by hand, no matter how poor the craftsman- 
ship. Although most of the workshops had only basic 
equipment, they served the community's needs by 



repairing books and producing furniture, programs 
for concerts and other performances, administrative 
forms, publicity photographs and textiles for special 
uses. Practical requirements and financial limitations 
precluded visionary or extravagant schemes, yet the 
products of the workshops demonstrate an inventive- 
ness and imaginative accommodation to the circum- 
stances. Furthermore, the practical demands of the 
community gave the projects a constructive value not 
attained in the typical courses in which students 
merely dabble in several crafts. Albers viewed 
photography, which at the time was taught primarily 
in science departments, if at all, as a new handicraft 
with still unexplored possibilities, noting that "... the 
photographer does not betray his personality as 
much by craftsmanship as by the intensity of his 

vision " Ceramics was not taught during the 

Albers years as he felt that clay does not offer enough 
resistance for the beginning student and is too easily 
misused as a material. The architecture curriculum, 
added in 1940 as a consequence of the need for new 
buildings at the Lake Eden campus, included the 
basic courses, experience in the workshops and con- 
struction. 1 " 

Beginning in 1944 the students had the opportunity 
to study with leaders in all. areas of the visual arts 
in the special summer sessions. The faculty included 
Jean Chariot, Lyonel Feininger, Amedee Ozenfant, 
Robert Motherwell and Willem de Kooning in 
painting; Barbara Morgan, Fritz Goro and Josef 
Breitenbach in photography; Walter Gropius, 
Charles Burchard and Buckminster Fuller in architec- 
ture; Leo Amino, Man' Callery, Concetta Scaravag- 
lione and Richard Lippold in sculpture; and Leo 
Lionni and Will Burtin in typography. For the 
summer sessions Albers tried to invite artists whose 
work was unlike his own, and he did not dictate to 
them how or what they should teach. 

As the college became known throughout the United 
States for its art curriculum, more students interested 
in professional careers in the arts came to study there. 
Among Albers's Black Mountain students are paint- 



ers and sculptors Ruth Asawa, Elizabeth Jennerjahn, 
W P. Jennerjahn, Kenneth Noland, Oli Sihvonen, 
Kenneth Snelson, Robert Rauschenberg, Ray 
Johnson, V. V. Rankine, Elaine Urbain, Robert de 
Niro and Susan Weil; book illustrators Ati Forberg, 
Margaret Williamson Peterson and Vera B. Williams; 
fiber artists Lore Lindenfeld, Dorothy Ruddick, Eini 
Sihvonen and Claire Zeisler; and architects and 
designers Don Page, Si Sillman, Henry Bergman, 
Robert Bliss, Charles Forberg, Claude Stoller, Albert 
Lanier and Harry Seidler. Albers constantly warned 
his students not to get on his or anyone else's 
"bandwagon," and the range and quality of the 
professional work of students and the fact that there 
is no "Black Mountain School of Art" is perhaps 
the best testimonial to the success of his curriculum. 
Unlike faculty members who spent a great deal of 
time socializing with the students, Albers's contact 
came primarily through his teaching. He was not an 
easy teacher to get along with, and many students 
objected to his authoritarian manner. He was 
dogmatic without being doctrinaire, and he expected 
his students to complete the given exercises. One 
recalled that Albers's influence could be negative on 
some of the students who lacked his intensity and 
liveliness, because he "created a purity orientation 
on impressionable people sometimes to a fault and 
they became antiseptic." Robert Rauschenberg 
commented in retrospect, "Albers was a beautiful 

teacher and an impossible person He wasn't easy 

to talk to, and I found his criticism so excruciating 
and so devastating that I never asked for it. Years 
later, though, I'm still learning what he taught me, 
because what he taught had to do with the entire 

visual world I consider Albers the most important 

teacher I've ever had, and I'm sure he considered me 
one of his poorest students." 13 

Albers was a "teacher who [gave] his class first-class 
mail instead of printed matter," and his program 
bore little resemblance to the sterile, uninspired 
design and color curriculum that later became the 
academic standard in the universities. His method 



of teaching was "a 'pedagogy of learning' rather than 
a 'pedagogj of teaching.' " Problems, not solutions, 
were presented and those assigned in one class were 
worked on independently and discussed in the next. 
Rather than constituting a solution, however, each 
study was the catalyst for another problem. Albers 
objected to the idea that theory should precede prac- 
tice | ust as he distinguished connotative thinking, 
which produced poetry, from denotative thinking. 
Opposed to overvaluation of student achievements, 
he chided those who signed their studies as if they 
were works of art and encouraged them instead to 
throw them out in order to keep the process of 
growth open and learn many ways of doing and 
seeing the same thing, which was the path "to 
freedom, avoiding the Demagogue.'" 4 

Nancy New-hall described Albers as an "electric 
current" in class. His intensity and animated manner, 
in which his gestures and eyes conveyed as much 
information as his words, perhaps grew out of his 
early teaching experiences, when he knew only a few 
words of English. He took a paternalistic interest in 
his students, and he felt it his responsibility to teach 
values, to give a sense of direction and to warn 
against blind alleys and pitfalls. For Albers the 
problems of art and life were inseparable, and 
student notes are sprinkled with homilies and advice: 

Fight symmetry because it forces you from 
habit, as an educational method . . .it gives self- 
discipline. 

hi art the concern is not what is right or wrong. 

Harmonious working together can he danger- 
ous. Education is not a matter of entertainment 
hut of work. 

Thinking in situations is /ust as important as 
thinking m conclusions. 

Emotionally meaningful form depends on re- 
lationship. 

No solution is an end. 

Great design is simple. Save your energy, save 



your scissors. 

Creation means seeing something in a new way. 

A new sensation tickles us. 

Simplicity means the reduction of complexity. 

To he simple today is a social obligation. 

Good design — proportion of effort to effect. 

One lie told many times becomes truth (!!!) 

Multiplied attention 

See Hitler! 

Value of repetition. 
Watch what's going on C" capture the accident. 
All art is swindelP 
A Black Mountain student recalled Albers pointing 
out that a short whisk of the broom before sweeping 
the trash in the pan will keep the dust from fogging. 
Another mentioned his raising glass cups at after- 
noon tea to observe the variation in intensity of color 
in relation to volume of tea. As a community member 
Albers did not hesitate to chastise the women 
students who wore their shirttails out (thus breaking 
the aesthetic lines of the body) or to caution an 
aspiring artist to put his time and money into his art 
rather than a fancy studio. Jean Chariot once found 
Albers on the farm building a fence for the pigpen. 
As there was only one hammer, Chariot sketched the 
horse while they talked. In Albers's own small garden, 
lilies and cactuses flourished alongside lettuce and 
radishes, and, unimpressed with American white 
bread, he had pumpernickel shipped from New York. 
Truly, at Black Mountain teaching was "round the 
clock and all of a man. There was no escape. Three 
meals together, passing in the hall, meeting in classes, 
meeting everywhere, a man taught by the way he 
walked, by the sound of his voice, by every move- 
ment." For Josef Albers art education at Black 
Mountain was education of the head, heart and 
hand. "It is inadequate to call real teaching a job," 
he wrote. "We like to see it as a kind of religion based 
on the belief that making ourselves and others 
grow — that is, making, stronger wiser, better — is one 
of the highest human tasks.'"" 



Josef Albers, "Art as Experience," Progressive Education, 
vol. 12, October 1935, p. 392:. 

Josef Albers, unpublished lecture given at the Black 
Mountain College Meeting at The Museum of Modern Art, 
New York, January 9, 1940 ("significant"); Josef Albers, 
"Truthfulness in Art," 1939, unpublished essay; Josef Albers, 
"Present and/or Past," Design, vol. 47, April 1946, p. 17 
("role"). Copies of all unpublished material by Albers which 
is cited are in the Josef Albers Papers, Yale University Library, 
New Haven. 

John H. Holloway and John A. Weil, "A Conversation with 
Josef Albers," Leonardo, vol. 3, October 1970, p. 459 
("uttered"); Josef Albers, "Concerning Art Instruction," 
Black Mountain College Bulletin, no. 2, June r.934 
("phenomena," "content," "province"); "Art as Experi- 
ence," p. 393 ("beauty shop"); Museum of Modern Art 
lecture ("uncreative"). 

Josef Albers, "Every perceivable thing has form," unpub- 
lished essay, n.d. ("documentation," "layman"); "Concern- 
ing Art Instruction" ("knowledge," "correctly"); Josef 
Albers, "art at BMC," December 1945-January 1946, 
unpublished essay ("imagination," "sensitive," "discovery," 
"observation," "aim"). 

Black Mountain College catalogue for 1956-57, p. 10 
("disciplined"); Josef Albers, "On General Education and 
Art Education," unpublished lecture given at the Denver Art 
Museum, July 1946 ("thinking"); Theodore Dreier to John 
Andrew Rice, March 1, 1935, Theodore Dreier Papers, 
private archive ("nonsense"). 

"ART AT BMC" ("practicing"); Design notes of Irene Cullis 
("habit"). 

Design notes of Irene Cullis ("how," "Matiere," "visually"); 
Design notes of Jane Slater Marquis ("Nothing"); "Truthful- 
ness in Art" ("thinking"). 



Color notes of Irene Cullis. 

"Concerning Art Instruction." 

"ART AT BMC" ("ends"); "Truthfulness in Art" ("let us"); 

Design notes of Lore Kadden Lindenfeld ("dark age"); 

Design notes of Margaret Balzer Cantieni ("wind"); Design 

notes of Jane Slater Marquis ("bones"). 

"Truthfulness in Art," p. 3 (Goya); "Art as Experience," p. 

391 ("revelation"). 

Josef Albers to F.P. Keppel, March 18, 1941, Black Mountain 

College Papers, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh 

("constructive"); Josef Albers, "The Educational Value of 

Manual Work and Handicraft in Relation to Architecture," 

in New Architecture and ( 'ity Planning: A Symposium, Paul 

Zucker, ed., New York, Philosophical Library, 1944, pp. 690, 

688 ("discredited," "integrate"); Josef Albers, "Photos as 

Photography and Photos as Art," n.d., unpublished essay 

("betray"). 

Interview with John Stix, Black Mountain College Project 

Papers, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, no. 179, 

May 8-, 1972 ("created"); Calvin Tomkins, The Bride & The 

Bachelors: Five Masters of the Avant-Garde, New York, 

Viking Press, 1968, p. 199 (Rauschenberg). 

Museum of Modern Art lecture ("teacher"); L.H.O., "A 

Teacher from Bauhaus," The New York Times, November 

29, 1933, p. 17 (""pedagogy"'); Design notes of Jane Slater 

Marquis ("freedom"). 

Interview with Nancy Newhall, Black Mountain College 

Project Papers, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, no. 

159, January 30, 1972; Class notes of Ati Gropius Forberg 

("Fight," "Thinking," "swmdel"), Si Sillman ("right," 

"Harmonious"), Jane Slater Marquis ("Emotionally," "No," 

"Great"), Lore Kadden Lindenfeld ("Creation"), Marilyn 

Bauer Greenwald ("Simplicity"), Margaret Balzer Cantieni 

("Good," "One," "Watch"). 

John Andrew Rice, / Came Out of the Eighteenth Century, 

New York and London, Harper & Brothers, 1942, p. 522 

("round") ; Museum of Modern Art lecture ("inadequate"). 



A Structural Analysis of Some of Albers's Work 



CHARLES E. RICKART 



I became acquainted with Josef Albers roughly thirty 
years ago at Yale University. We were both Fellows 
of Saybrook College and at lunch would often 
discuss the possible connections of his work with 
mathematics. Albers suspected that his graphic 
constructions had a significant relation to mathemat- 
ics and naturally thought that the connection derived 
somehow from his use of geometric figures. Al- 
though this belief is partially true, there is, in my 
opinion, a much deeper and more subtle contact with 
mathematics. I have in mind here the conceptualiza- 
tion rather than the formal presentation of 
mathematics. The visualization of certain mathemat- 
ical notions appears to be very close to the perceptual 
experience produced by an Albers work, and an 
analysis of the latter suggests that similar experiences 
may occur in many other fields, including the sci- 
ences. In a science, however, phenomena of this kind 
are normally quite irrelevant to the actual subject 
matter and so are of little interest to most of its 
practitioners. This is especially true in mathematics, 
although there are some notable exceptions to the 
rule.' In any case, one cannot work in a field without 
thinking about it, so conceptualization must occur 
whether or not it is formally recognized. 

The germ of the ideas presented here dates back to 
my first serious examination of Albers's art, which 
occurred soon after I met him. It primarily concerns 
the illusion of motion that is produced by many of 



his works. There are some brief comments on this 
effect in my book Structuralism and Structures, 
where I use it to exemplify certain features of the 
mind's ability to deal with structures." The present 
essay grew out of those comments. 

Although I communicated my early thoughts on the 
subject to Albers many years ago, I never obtained 
a very definite reaction from him. Therefore, since 
the ideas seemed so natural to me, I concluded that 
Albers probably regarded them as either obvious or 
naive, and I did not press the matter. Upon reflection 
I have come to believe that either I failed to make 
my point or my rather prosaic ideas did not fit in 
with his own very poetic explanations of his work. 
I also recognize that Albers was interested in myriad 
other visual effects along with a wide variety of 
techniques for producing them, so the illusion of 
motion might have appeared a relatively small part 
of the whole. In any case I believe that the issue of 
how or why one experiences this illusion is important 
not only because it bears on most of the other effects 
his work can produce, but also because it casts some 
light on the way the human mind processes certain 
information. Artistic creations like those of Albers, 
because they are so pure and uncluttered, are 
especially appropriate for probing such workings of 
the mind. And as I have emphasized in my book, 
mathematics, though less accessible, can play a 
similar role for the same reasons. 



Since I am in no sense an expert on art, the point 
of view outlined here is not only very limited but 
also lacks the usual embellishments expected in a 
commentary of this kind. An expert will probably 
note places where I have overlooked contributions 
by others or have naively belabored ideas perhaps 
obvious to everyone else. I hope that the reader will 
make the necessary allowances. Finally I would like 
to thank Nicholas Weber, who is so familiar with 
everything concerning Albers, for his kind encour- 
agement, without which I never would have had the 
nerve to attempt this project. 

The following discussion, as already indicated, 
proceeds from the point of view of general "struc- 
tures." Underlying this approach is the observation 
that the mind, in an attempt to deal with presented 
material, will automatically structure, in some form 
or other, the information contained therein. As we 
might expect, the structuring process is very inti- 
mately connected to understanding and tends to 
operate only on potentially "meaningful" informa- 
tion. Moreover, the process is actually "built-in" and 
so does not have to be learned, though it is modified 
by experience and may develop differently according 
to the individual. Some awareness of the process, 
despite its automatic character, may facilitate the 
formation and improve the quality of the result, as 
well as add greatly to our understanding of how the 
mind deals with information. Although the struc- 
tures involved in the process may be extremely 
complex, those considered here are relatively simple 
and, up to a point, not very difficult to analyze. 

AH creative activity is highly structural in character, 
involving first of all the mental structuring processes 
of the originator. But it also involves the individuals 
to whom the fruit of this activity is directed. The 
work carries a message, and the originator must take 
into account, perhaps unconsciously, the manner in 
which it will be received. This amounts to an 
anticipation of how a prospective recipient may 
structure the information contained in the messaee. 



In fact the product normally contains many features 
designed to influence this structuring process, and 
they are often surprisingly detailed. Techniques for 
exercising such control vary greatly in kind and 
complexity. A simple and familiar example is an 
artist's use of composition to influence the way in 
which a viewer's attention moves from one portion 
of a painting to another. A quite different example 
is the careful organization of a good piece of writing. 
Controls of this type, which usually operate very 
subtly, play an especially important role in Albers's 
art. 

Albers's graphic constructions, which consist of 
highly structured arrangements of line segments in 
a plane, are by far the easiest of his works to analyze. 
Though freodimensional, the line arrangements are 
such that they are perceived immediately, by most 
observers, as representations of f/;ree-dimensional 
objects in space made up of various plane sections. 
Yet the viewer quickly becomes aware that no such 
objects can exist in real space. It is this setup, with 
its apparently conflicting message, that gives rise to 
the illusion of motion. The objective of the present 
essay is to try to explain exactly how and why this 
happens. For simplicity's sake most of the detailed 
analysis that follows is confined to just one of the 
graphic constructions. 

It is worth noting that there are individuals who are 
unable to experience this sense of motion. One 
possible explanation for this may be a limitation in 
their ability to visualize three-dimensional objects 
as represented by two-dimensional figures. In fact I 
have encountered a few students who, as far as I 
could tell, were unable to "see" three-dimensional 
objects represented by carefully rendered drawings 
on the chalkboard. Unfortunately such persons will 
be denied the unique experience that most of us enjoy 
in viewing the Albers constructions. 
Now let us consider the two figures that follow, 
which are reproduced in Albers's delightful little 
book, Despite Straight Lines. ! 




They constitute the last in a group of four pairs that 
are accompanied by the following poetic comments 
by the artist: 

4 Pairs of Structural Constellations 

Within a formal limitation of equal contours 

as mutual silhouette, these pairs show different 

but related plastic movements of lines, planes. 

volumes. 

Thus, they change 

m motion: from coming to going, 

in extension: from inward to outward, 

in grouping: from together to separated, 

in volume: from full to empty, 

or reversed. 

And all this, in order to show extended 

flexibility. 

I. A. 



It is clear from his remarks that Albers's primary 
objective in the drawings was to create a complex 
illusion of motion for the viewer. He accomplished 
this by arranging the lines in remarkably clever ways. 
I will next examine the actual process by which the 
impression of motion is produced. It will be sufficient 
to concentrate on the top member of the pair. 
We observe first that although the complete figure 
cannot be read in any way as representing a spatial 
object, certain of its parts can be so interpreted, often 
in more than one way. Moreover, in each case the 
only ambiguity is in which interpretation the viewer 
fixes upon. For example when we consider the 
reproductions on the facing page of three over- 
lapping parts of the figure, we note that b and c 
may be obtained from a by adding symmetric 
portions of the complete figure. 

Part a admits two three-dimensional interpretations: 
the first, in which the middle panels extending from 
top left to bottom right appear to slope away from 
us (x); and the second, in which they appear to slope 
toward us (2). We note that in 1 we are looking up 
at the panels and in 1 we are looking down on them. 
In the case of b there is only one possible reading, 
since the additions to a which yield b "force" an 
interpretation consistent with /. This occurs primar- 
ily because the U-shaped addition on the right admits 
a unique interpretation in which we are looking up 
at its base. This view is reinforced by plane segments 
such as the one labeled Q. Similarly, c admits only 
the interpretation consistent with 1. Therefore the 
complete figure, because of the conflicting readings 
demanded by its parts b and c, cannot represent a 
three-dimensional object. In other words, as far as 
relevance to a "real" object is concerned, the 
information contained in the figure is definitely 
contradictory. It is interesting to recall that Albers 
called these constructions "illogical" and in conver- 
sation referred to them as "my nonsense." 
Both the mind's persistent drive to extract meaning 
from information, and its tendency to interpret two- 






dimensional, perhaps retinal data as if it originated 
in a three-dimensional object, are universal auto- 
matic responses essential for coping with the outside 
world. However if the given information contains 
an obvious contradiction, the natural response 
would seem to be to reject it as irrelevant. Therefore 
in the case that interests us, we might expect an 
observer to abandon any attempt to make a three- 
dimensional interpretation of the figure and simply 
accept a two-dimensional picture. That this does not 
normally occur suggests that the drive to interpret 
figures in three dimensions and to acquire useful 
meaning is more basic than the intellectual demand 
for logical consistency. 

We must not conclude, however, that the mind 
blindly accepts contradictory information. In fact it 
appears to abhor a contradiction, and when one does 
arise in a presumably meaningful situation, the mind 
will attempt to resolve it at all costs. Resolving an 
obvious contradiction such as the one we are 
considering would seem to require a bit of magic. 
Indeed the result is rather magical, though the trick 
is actually quite simple — just change the rules of the 
game. 

As already suggested the mind's initial impulse is to 
interpret two-dimensional information as coming 
from a fixed three-dimensional object. Since this is 
not possible, something has to yield. The trick is to 



allow a solution that is not fixed. This additional 
freedom allows the mind to create an illusion of a 
variable three-dimensional object, one that may 
change from a particular form to another, so that 
some part of it, in each state, will represent a valid 
portion of the given information. Thus, a shift of 
attention from one part of the given figure to another 
part, instead of resulting in frustration and confu- 
sion, actually provides the drive for transforming the 
illusory object from one state to another. 
This analysis may be applied to the bottom element 
in the illustrated pair and, in fact, to any of Albers's 
graphic constructions that produce an illusion of 
motion. It even applies to parts a, b and c of the top 
figure in the pair. In the case of a, we observe that 
the ambiguity of two valid interpretations is itself a 
contradiction which may be resolved by a shift of 
attention from one interpretation to the other, giving 
the "flip-flop" motion common to many ordinary 
optical illusions. Part b produces an effect similar 
to that of the complete figure but much weaker. This 
arises because the one valid three-dimensional 
interpretation, though tending to dominate, is 
challenged locally in the left portion of the figure 
by the contradictory interpretation consistent with 
i. The same effect occurs in the case of part c. 
It should be noted that the above analysis addresses 
only a few basic features of the actual experience, 



which is considerably more complex than might be 
expected. For example, in addition to the transfor- 
mation of inside or outside corners into their 
opposite, so familiar in ordinary optical illusions, 
the middle planes appear to twist and turn as they 
change their directions. There are also subtle local 
effects, one of which is illustrated by the behavior 
of the three plane segments P, Q and R indicated in 
h. In what is usually the first interpretation of /;, Q 
and R together constitute a plane segment that 
appears to lie behind P. However in the contradic- 
tory, local interpretation, obtained by starting at the 
upper left, R sits forward of P while Q joins the 
two and forms an angle with each. Thus, in the 
transitions, the plane formed initially by Q and R 
undergoes a flexing motion. We also discover that 
once we are caught up in this experience, we are 
virtually forced to take an active role in the process 
by orchestrating the transformations, exploring 
local effects and trying to recover or re-create effects 
after they have disappeared. 

Finally, as Albers suggested in his comments on the 
"4 Pairs," the illusory objects associated with the 
two figures in a given pair also interact with one 
another — an effect somewhat more difficult to 
elicit — and this further enriches the total experience. 
The result has a dynamic quality wholly unique to 
Albers's art. All of the effects are carefully planned 
by the artist and are brought about by means of a 
very precise and subtle placement of line segments, 
sometimes appropriately emphasized, which direct 
and control the observer's attention. Needless to say, 
a full appreciation requires an extended period of 
relaxed and patient viewing. It is also helpful to read 
Albers's own comments on some of the individual 
constructions included in Despite Straight Lines and 
on his teaching methods described in Search Versus 
Re-Search.'' 

An analysis similar to the above may be applied to 
Albers's color constructions. Like the graphic 
constructions, they produce an illusion of motion 



by virtue of the contradictory messages they carry. 
In this case, however, the messages involve certain 
subtle characteristics of color perception which are 
not very familiar or obvious to the inexperienced 
observer. As far as motion is concerned, the property 
of interest is that in a collection of colors, some will 
be seen as advanced or receded in relation to the 
others. The perception will depend, of course, on 
the relative masses, intensities and arrangement of 
the various colors. Moreover, these effects can occur 
between different shades of the same color, even 
gray. Albers's well-known book Interaction of Color 
contains illustrations and discussions of these and 
many other remarkable properties of color percep- 
tion.' Yet in contrast with the line drawings, an 
explanation of how and why the color constructions 
produce their effects is not so easily formed. 

In these constructions the interaction between the 
colors of several regions produces messages concern- 
ing their relative fore and aft positions. Similar 
messages may also be conveyed geometrically or by 
the way the regions overlap. For example some areas 
may be depicted as semitransparent so that one field 
will seem as if it is seen through another. If such 
messages are contradictory, the stage is then set for 
an illusion of motion, just as in the previous case. 
The result, however, has a character somewhat 
different from that of the drawings. Here, perhaps 
because of a qualitative difference in the messages, 
the motion tends to be smoother and less cyclic. In 
fact all of the color effects, as compared to the 
graphics, are quite subtle and more difficult to 
analyze. This is especially true for certain of Albers's 
ubiquitous Homages to the Square. 
An expert could no doubt cite many other examples 
of works of art, such as certain sculptures, which 
produce effects analogous to those we are discussing. 
Moreover, the phenomenon is not confined to visual 
perception. Settings for it are easy to identify in many 
fields, such as physics, mathematics, music, poetry 
and literature. Their common feature is that each 



presents to the mind, in one form or another, a 
challenge to integrate into one meaningful whole 
two or more conflicting or perhaps competing sets 
of information. The product of the synthesis will 
generally have a character quite different from the 
separate components. And when the information is 
not visual, the results are usually more difficult to 
describe and therefore appear to be more subjective. 
But the present essay is not the place to attempt a 
detailed analysis of these examples. 
One more comment should be made concerning 
abstract works such as those by Albers. As already 
indicated, although the mind will normally strive to 
make sense of presented information, that effort will 
be aborted without some evidence of its potential 
meaningfulness. In some cases the opinion of an 



See Jacques Hadamard, The Psychology of Invention in the 
Mathematical Field, New York, Dover Publications, 1854; 
Marston Morse, "Mathematics and the Arts," Bulletin of 
the Atomic Scientists, vol. XV, February 1959, pp. 55-59 
(reprinted from The Yale Renew, vol. 40, Summer 1951,'pp. 
604-612); and Henri Poincre, Foundations of Science, G.H. 
Halstead, trans.. New York, The Science Press, Mi}. 



authority on the subject or the simple fact that the 
work exists may suffice as evidence. For the Albers 
constructions, it is provided in part by the three- 
dimensional fragments contained in the figures. 
However another source is at least as important as 
any of these. It is a sense of the artist's competence 
and integrity, with the consequent assurance that the 
work does have content. Although with some artists 
such assurance may be rather elusive, this is not true 
of Albers — his superb technique and the resulting 
meticulous constructions leave little room for doubt. 
Few observers will have any trouble accepting the 
challenge to participate in the rewarding creative 
experience that Albers's graphic and color construc- 
tions offer. 



Charles E. Rickart, Structuralism and Structures: A 

Mathematical Perspective, forthcoming. 

Josef Albers and Francois Bucher, Despite Straight Lines, 

New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1961, pp. 

5 1 , 5 5- 

Josef Albers and Francois Bucher, Despite Straight Lines; 

Josef Albers, Search Versus Re-Search, Hartford, Trinity 

College Press, 1969. 

Josef Albers, Interaction of Color, New Haven and London, 

Yale University Press, 1963; paperbound, 1971. 



New Challenges Beyond the Studio: 
The Murals and Sculpture of Josef Albers 



NEAL BENEZRA 



In October 1949 Walter Gropius invited his longtime 
friend and former Bauhaus colleague Josef Albers 
to design a large brick wall in a new graduate 
commons building that his firm, The Architects' 
Collaborative, had designed for Harvard University. 
Although Albers had never worked in brick, he had 
completed a number of art-in-architecture projects 
in the 1910s and 192.0s, and he was pleased by the 
new challenge. The completed work, America (fig. 
1 ), encapsulates Albers's views on the ideal interac- 
tion of art and architecture at that time. It is a brick 
mural consisting of no additive elements whatsoever; 
instead, the composition resides where the artist 
removed bricks from the Flemish bond structure that 
he selected for the wall. That is, the design is 
conveyed exclusively in the horizontal voids in the 
wall and the resulting vertical ranges that the aligned 
spaces create, a formal concept based in the "sky- 
scraper" style which Albers evolved in the 1920s. 
He described America in 1952 as: 

respecting] and preserving the wall] to the last 

degree possible .... instead of making a free 

arrangement of bricks, . . . by application of 

protruding and receding bricks, I decided to 

keep the flatness of the front intact . . . 111st as on 

the outside brick walls.' 

In its conception and even its design, America offers 

a model of Bauhaus-style collaboration, with art 

serving at the pleasure of architecture. In his program 

for the Graduate Center, Gropius sought to establish 

a rhythm of sequentially ordered and interlocking 



forms and spaces, in both plan and elevation. This 
formal theme was consistent with his early master- 
works, the Werkbund Pavilion in Cologne (1914) and 
the Bauhaus complex at Dessau (192.6), and it was 
communicated to Albers early in the planning stages 
of the Harvard project. 1 In deference to his architect, 
Albers produced a design of tightly interwoven and 
interpenetrating solids and voids, a composition 
which responds cleverly to the Gropius plan. Indeed, 
in his statement on the mural, Albers reaffirmed his 
strong belief in the responsibility of the artist to 
conform to the architect's prerogatives in such 
projects: 

/ believe that any design organically connected 
with an architectural structure should be related 
to that structure no matter whether this design 
is to emphasize or to complete, to change or to 
correct, the appearance or function of the 
building or space concerned.' 
Albers would complete twenty additional art-in- 
architecture projects after 1950, and these experi- 
ences would radically alter his deferential attitude. 
This largely unknown body of work includes a wide 
range of materials and formats, among them photo- 
sensitive glass windows, compositions in brick, 
formica and gold-leaf murals, reliefs in stainless steel 
and one extraordinary freestanding sculpture. 
Although the artist's reliance on architects in 
transforming the unforgiving geometry of his small- 
scale work to public sites was initially very strong, 
in time he would seek independence from their 



64 



dictates. The story of Josef Albers's art-in-architec- 
ture projects is that of a painter venturing outside 
the secure and established procedures of his studio, 
and confronting and eventually controlling the 
appearance of his work in public. 4 




Masonry brick. 



Swaine Room, Harkness Commons, 
Graduate Center, Harvard University 



Albers's respect for architects and architecture was 
longstanding, dating to the 1920s and his formative 
experience at the Bauhaus. Conceived by Gropius 
with the aim of regenerating the arts and crafts under 
the mantle of architecture, the philosophy of the 
Bauhaus was delineated by the architect in his often- 
quoted manifesto of 1919: 

The ultimate aim of all visual arts is the complete 
building! To embellish buildings was once the 
noblest function of the fine arts; they were the 
indispensable components of great architecture. 
Today the arts exist in isolation, from which they 
can be rescued only through the conscious, 

cooperative effort of all craftsmen Together 

let us desire, conceive, and create the new 
structure of the future, which will embrace 
architecture and sculpture and painting in one 
unity. . . .' 

In many ways Albers personified this Bauhaus ideal. 
A student from 1919 to 1922, he went on to teach 
at the Bauhaus until its forced closure in 1933. 
Promoted to the level of journeyman there in 1922, 
Albers did not paint, but rather involved himself in 
a number of constructive activities which 
predisposed him to his later art-in-architecture work. 
For example he was charged with the reorganization 
of the glass workshop and taught there; and he 
executed a number of stained- and single-pane glass 
compositions. In his later years at the Bauhaus, 
Albers directed the furniture workshop as well as 
the wallpaper design program. Indeed, two of his 
closest friends there were Gropius and Marcel 
Breuer, and it was through these architects and their 
students that Albers received many of his subsequent 
art-in-architecture commissions. 




Pyramid, Tenayuca, Mexico, ca. 1939 
Photograph by Josef Albers 
Collection The Josef Albers Foundation 




Palace of the Columns, Mitla, Mexico, n.d. 
Ph( itograph by Josef Albers 
Collection The Josef Albers Foundation 



Following Albers's emigration to the United States 
in 1933, he found another crucial source which 
reinforced his profound respect for the primacy of 
architects and architecture. Beginning in 1935 Josef 
and Anni Albers visited Latin America on fourteen 
occasions. 6 They lectured, worked and traveled 
during these trips, and in the process they became 
passionate admirers of Pre-Columbian art and 
architecture. Albers was particularly enamored of 
the sculptural character of such monuments as the 
pyramid at Tenayuca, north of Mexico City, and the 
exquisite carved reliefs of the Palace of the Columns 
at Mitla, in Oaxaca, and he took numerous photo- 
graphs at these and other sites (figs. 2, 3). For him 
these structures revealed an extraordinary conjunc- 
tion of architecture and sculpture, a union largely 
unknown in Europe since the Middle Ages. As a 
product of the Bauhaus, Albers believed that western 
culture had emphasized — indeed abused — the no- 
tion of creative individuality at the expense of 
productive collaboration, and he found his idealism 
confirmed in these magnificent, sun-bleached walls. 
While Albers's travels in Latin America intensified 
his belief in the collaborative ideal, the figure-ground 
equivalence that prevails in Pre-Columbian sculpture 
proved an important formal influence in works such 
as America. By the late 1930s Albers came to 
characterize sculpture as "active volume," a defini- 
tion which ended the "separation of figure and 
background and the separation of high and low." 
Always a strong believer in the humanistic implica- 
tions of form, the artist also felt that figure-ground 
equivalence implied a "very valuable social 
philosophy, namely real democracy: every part 
serves and at the same time is served."" 
If America exemplified the collaborative process, it 
also functioned as a prototype for several future 
efforts in brick. During the 1950s and 1960s, Albers 
designed five additional brick reliefs, foremost 
among them a pair of domestic fireplaces in Connect- 
icut homes and a large altar-wall triptych for a 
church in Oklahoma City. Both fireplaces were 




4 Rouse Fireplace. 1955 
Masonry brick, 8x5' 
Irving Rouse House, North Have 
Connecticut 



St. Patrick's Altar Wall. 1961 
Masonry brick and gold leaf, 18 x 40' 
St. Patrick's Church, Oklahoma Cm- 



designed for Albers's friend and colleague, the Yale 
architecture professor King Lui Wu. A graduate of 
Harvard's Graduate School of Design, Wu knew and 
admired America, and he commissioned the artist 
to contribute fireplace designs to two of his earliest 
projects, the Irving Rouse House in North Haven 
of 1955 (fig. 4), and the Benjamin DuPont House 
inWoodbridge of 19 5 8-59. 8 In both instances Albers 
responded with more sculptural designs than he had 
produced previously. In them numerous courses of 
brick are set diagonally into the wall, thus increasing 
the number of light-reflecting surfaces and creating 
a strong and vibrant pattern of light and cast shadow. 

Albers's largest and most compelling work in brick 
dating from this period is the St. Patrick's Altar Wall 
of 1961 (fig. 5). 9 Standing eighteen by fort)' feet and 
brillantly colored with gold leaf, the altar wall 



represents an extraordinary step beyond its predeces- 
sors. In design it benefits from the artist's previous 
brick reliefs, with courses again projecting from the 
plane of the wall with mathematical regularity. The 
great size of the wall and its placement in a religious 
setting suggested the recess of two vertical courses 
of brick into shadow, thereby dividing the whole into 
triptych format. Adding to the power of the composi- 
tion is the gold leaf, which is applied to the lengths 
but not the ends of the bricks. This enhances the 
shimmering interplay of light and deep shadow, an 
effect which heightens the visual intensity of Albers's 
first important sculpture. 

Beyond these formal advances the St. Patrick's Altai- 
Wall represents the first instance in which the artist's 
sculpture dominates an architectural space. The nave 
is a virtually unmediated horizontal expanse, with 




6 White Cross Window. 1955 
Photosensitive glass, 5x11' 
Abbot's Chapel, St. John's Abbey, 
Collegevtlle, Minnesota 



only a glass wall separating the congregation from 
an open ambulatory beyond. The altar wall is a 
compelling, radiant presence, and it rescues the nave 
from its complete lack of spatial focus. In its 
dominance of a religious space, the altar wall recalls 
the retables which Albers had seen in Bavaria in his 
youth, as well as those in the Colonial churches of 
Cuzco and Arequipa which he had photographed 
while in Peru in the 1950s.' Indeed, the breadth of 
the artist's field of aesthetic interest and reference 
was greater than is often supposed, and he found 
much inspiration in these retables, transforming 
them with all his admirable power of restraint into 
a monument of quiet but compelling spirituality. 
The man responsible for the Oklahoma City commis- 
sion was Frank Kacmarcik, consultant on art and 
liturgy at St. Patrick's. It was Kacmarcik who 
proposed Albers to the officials at St. Patrick's and 



to the architects of the church, the Tulsa firm of 
Murray-Jones-Murray. Kacmarcik's knowledge of 
Albers's art-in-architecture projects was firsthand 
and longstanding, as he had also served for many 
years as consultant to the Benedictine community 
of St. John in Collegeville, Minnesota. In the mid- 
1950s this had been the site of Albers's work with 
Breuer, a collaboration which resulted in White 
Cross Window of 1955 (fig. 6). 11 
Installed in the small abbot's chapel of St. John's 
Abbey, White Cross Window is among Albers's most 
remarkable efforts in any medium. The window- 
consists of thirty-one small panes of photosensitive 
glass joined by a framework of staggered wooden 
mullions. The composition — a complex, mathemat- 
ically ordered arrangement in four shades of gray — is 
activated by the sensitivity of the glass to light. Such 
an idea became a realistic possibility only in the 



■ft 


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i 1 1 






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Sommerfeld Window. 192.2 (destroyed; 

Stained glass 

Sommerfeld House, Berlin-Dahlem 



1940s, when scientists discovered that when exposed 
photographically, a single pane of glass would yield 
a surprising range of tones within a single hue. 1 " 
Thus Albers could place constrasting shades of gray 
beside one another without the leading of traditional 
stained glass. Beyond eliminating the need for 
leading, this discovery made possible the design of 
a monochrome window whose tones are not static 
but instead respond to light in a variety of ways. 
Because White Cross Window is made of photosen- 
sitive glass, its composition changes according to the 
direction and quality of the dominant light-source. 
As a result, at night, when artificial illumination 
replaces daylight, the tones of the glass reverse in 
value — dark areas become light and light areas 
become dark — an effect which completely trans- 
forms the composition of the window as a whole. 
Albers's interest in glass can be traced to his child- 



hood, as he was trained in the craft of stained glass 
at home by his father. In fact the artist's first art-in- 
architecture project dates to 191--18, when he was 
asked to design a stained-glass window for a church 
in his native Bottrop, West Germany. 13 Glass was 
Albers's primary material throughout the Bauhaus 
years, and it was on the basis of a body of as- 
semblages composed of discarded glass that he was 
promoted to the level of journeyman in 1922. In this 
position he was charged with the reorganization and 
direction of the glass workshop. While teaching he 
completed several commissions, the most important 
of which resulted in the now-destroyed Sommerfeld 
Window, part of the well-known architectural 
commission for a house in Berlin-Dahlem completed 
by Gropius in 1922 (fig. 7). 14 

It would be difficult to overstate the important role 
which glass held in the development of Albers's work. 



Geometry only became a consistent element of his 
art in the mid-rgzos, when he perfected a new- 
process for sandblasting glass employing — as he 
would do with White Cross Window some thirty 
years later — a recently developed industrial 
technique to create a new form of expression in glass. 
As early as 1925 Albers had transformed the glazier's 
traditional craft into an expressly modern endeavor, 
with the hard-edged templates required for 
sandblasting yielding the geometry which would 
characterize his lifelong artistic style. 

A postscript must be added to this account of the St. 
John's commission, since White Cross Window was 
to constitute only the first step of a much larger 
project. From their correspondence it is clear that 
both Albers and Breuer considered the window in 
the abbot's chapel to be experimental. If photosensi- 
tive glass could be designed successfully, it would 
also be employed much more extensively in the 
Abbey Church. This structure, which was completed 
in 1961, was to feature an enormous north window- 
wall consisting of 650 windows by Albers. 

By 1958 the artist had finished his design and a now- 
lost model of the windows, which he presented at 
the abbey in 1959. Yet through a complex series of 
misunderstandings, Albers was not awarded the 
commission; it went instead to a lay member of the 
faculty at St. John's."" Whether the fault lay with 
Breuer or with the patrons, Albers felt badly be- 
trayed. This was but the first instance in which the 
artist was victimized by circumstances in his art-in- 
architecture projects, and he would slowly come to 
reassess his former idealism regarding the value of 
collaborative endeavor. This realization would have 
extraordinary consequences in his later work. 
By the late 1950s, Albers's art-in-architecture efforts 
had become well known among architects. Because 
of his reputation and that of Gropius and of Breuer, 
America and White Cross Window were published 
extensively, particularly in architectural journals. As 
a result, Albers, who celebrated his seventieth 
birthday in 1958, was now offered and accepted an 



increasing number of commissions. In the main these 
opportunities were of a much different order than 
the earlier ones. Although he would work again with 
Gropius in 1963, most of his new collaborators were 
not peers but proteges, architects who had been 
Albers's students at Black Mountain or Yale, or 
associates of Gropius or Breuer. These jobs often 
involved the design of murals for skyscraper lobbies, 
many of which are in New York, and they thus 
provided Albers with unparalleled opportunities to 
place his work in public settings. In most cases the 
artist responded by altering the materials and 
enhancing the scale of his small-scale work, an 
ambition which he had long held. 
Two of these murals were particularly successful and 
influential. The first, commissioned and completed 
in 1959, is Tivo Structural Constellations (fig. 8), a 
pair of linear configurations incised in gold leaf on 
one wall of the Corning Glass Building lobby in 
midtown Manhattan. Composed of a striking black 
Carrara glass ceiling and crisp white Vermont marble 
walls, Harrison and Abramovitz's lobby showcases 
the racing lines of Albers's most refined and elegant 
mural.'" 

Albers was fascinated by his first urban mural 
commission, both because it allowed the public 
greater access to his work, and because he relished 
the challenge of expressing the pace of New York 
City. He was thrilled by the dynamism of New York, 
and he considered the Structural Constellations, a 
series he had begun around 1950 in which diagonal 
lines predominate, to be equal to the compelling 
urban rhythm. The Structural Constellations were 
conceived by plotting and then linking points on 
small sheets of graph paper. By maintaining the same 
coordinates but altering the lines that join them, the 
artist could achieve endless variations on a single 
compositional theme. The Constellations exist in 
drawings, engraved plastic and a variety of graphic 
media (see cat. nos. 171-176). 

Beyond their elegance and effectiveness as mural 
decoration, when expanded greatly in size the 




Two Structural Constellations. 1959 
Vermont marble and gold leaf, 16x61' 
Lobby, Corning Glass Building, New York 



Constellations assumed enhanced formal value for 
the artist. At their original scale, these complex- 
graphic configurations were like puzzles, offering the 
viewer a range of contrasting linear readings. When 
monumentalized the Constellations appeared more 
expansive and allusive; compositions which once 
seemed small and playful now suggested vast spatial 
enclosures or darting planes. This realization proved 
provocative for Albers, and he would soon employ 
the Constellations as the predominant motifs of his 
relief sculptures.. 

Albers's other major New York mural, Manhattan 
of 1963, is perhaps even more dynarnic and success- 
ful than the first one (fig. 9). 17 Measuring twenty- 
eight by fifty-four feet and mounted above the 
bustling escalators linking the Pan Am Building and 
Grand Central Terminal, this is doubtless Albers's 
most frequently viewed work. Commissioned by 



Gropius for Emery Roth's Pan Am Building, Manhat- 
tan is, like Two Structural Constellations, a compel- 
ling response to a vibrant urban environment. The 
Pan Am lobby is really a concourse, a well-lubricated 
architectural machine in which escalators funnel 
pedestrians at a rapid pace between Grand Central 
and the surrounding streets of New York. 
The work evolved from a suggestion by Gropius, 
who proposed that Albers adapt City of 1928 (fig. 
10) — one of the artist's finest sandblasted-glass 
pictures — to the scale and proportions of the Pan 
Am site. City had been acquired by the Kunsthaus 
Zurich in i960 and was reproduced in the museum's 
journal that same year. Albers possessed numerous 
offprints of the publication and, in a fascinating 
reapplication of his own ideas, he used the published 
black and white photograph of the work as the basis 
for sketches for the mural (fig. 11). 





9 Manhattan. 1963 
Formica, 28 x 55' 
Lobby, Pan American Airlines Building, New York 



1 Untitled (Study for "Manhattan"). 1963 
Ink and tempera on paper, 4V2 x jVi" 
Collection The Josef Albers Foundation 



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10 QVy. 1928 

Sandblasted glass, n x 21 Vs" 
Collection Kunsthaus Zurich 



In reworking the 1928 design, the artist retained the 
unit-measure system but expanded the number of 
red, white and black bars to great advantage. 
Whereas the "skyscraper" style of City and the other 
sandblasted-glass compositions of the twenties are 
carefully balanced but only moderately paced 
arrangements, Manhattan features, in Albers's 
words, "...constant change, overlapping and pene- 
tration which lead us up and down, over and 

back " ,H In its scale and impact, Manhattan is a 

compelling image of constant flux, brilliantly 
capturing the unyielding pace of New York City. 
Tivo Structural Constellations and Manhattan are 
among Josef Albers's finest large-scale works, and 
each had important implications for his future 
efforts. Manhattan would prove to be his last 
important indoor mural, as it was the final instance 
in which the site would enhance the artist's design. 
More often than not, Albers was invited to contrib- 
ute to architecture which aspired to nothing more 
than functional clarity, with lobbies designed to 
move large quantities of people with minimum delay. 
The specific position of a mural would often be 
predetermined by the architect, and the artist often 
found his work obstructed by pillars, columns or 
other barriers. Although the design and impact of 
Manhattan would influence Albers's last work, for 
the Stanford University campus, throughout the 
remainder of his life he would focus primarily on 
sculpture, particularly the application of the Constel- 
lations in relief. 

Within months after the completion of Two Struc- 
tural Constellations, Albers described a new interest, 
which he termed "structural sculpture": 

Following the history of sculpture, it is amazing 
to see for how long it has restricted itself to 

volume almost exclusively Centuries of 

predominantly voluminous sculpture are being 
confronted today by a strong trend toward 
linear sculpture, toward sculpture combined and 
constructed Finally a few independent 



[sculptors] were courageous enough to concen- 
trate on the plane, the in-between of volume and 
line, as a broad sculptural concept and promise. 
It is a promise, truly new and exciting: Structural 
Sculpture. Because it traverses the separation of 
2 and 1 dimensions. 19 
On a formal level it was precisely this conjunction 
of two and three dimensions which Albers attempted 
in his late outdoor reliefs. Two Structural Constella- 
tions introduced this possibility, for it offered him 
the opportunity to visualize his purely linear work 
in planar and thus sculptural terms for the first time. 
The challenge he assumed lay in the possibility of 
creating three-dimensional illusion through strictly 
two-dimensional means. He achieved this by con- 
structing Constellations of stainless steel and on a 
large scale, and affixing the reliefs to the facades of 
prominent buildings. Perhaps more important, these 
works also signaled a shift away from Albers's initial 
attitude of deference to his architect. In them the 
artist emphatically proclaimed the lines of his 
sculpture as possessing the strength to challenge the 
masses and materials of architecture. 
The first occasion for such a project came with the 
completion of Paul Rudolph's Art and Architecture 
Building at Yale in 1963/° When Rudolph decided 
to add sculpture to the facade of his already distinctly- 
sculptural building, he approached Albers who, 
although retired as chairman of the art school since 
1958, had continued to teach until i960. The artist 
agreed to contribute a work, and the result was 
Repeat and Reverse (1963), a stainless steel Constel- 
lation which was affixed directly above the principal 
entrance to the building (figs. 12, 13). 
On most facades such placement would be ideal. 
However the entrance to Rudolph's building is set 
well back from the street and is not a prominent 
element in the overall design. In addition, the wall 
above the doorway is narrow. Due to these factors, 
Repeat and Reverse is extremely cramped in its 
chosen location. Further, it does not enjoy 



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\i Repeat and Reverse. 1963 

Stainless steel on concrete, 6'6" x 3' 
Entrance, Art and Architecture 
Building, Yale University, New Haven 



3 Repeat and Revt 




1 4 Two Supraportas. 1972 

Stainless steel on granite, 59" x 107' (wall) 
Entrance, Westfalisch.es Landesmuseum 
fur Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Miinster 



lines of sight, an unfortunate circumstance for any 
sculpture, and all the more tragic in this case given 
Albers's long and influential tenure at Yale. 
Yet, surprisingly, it was Albers himself who selected 
the setting. This occurred against the better judgment 
of Rudolph, who recalls: "Mr. Albers selected the 
precise location, although I must say that I never 
thought it well-placed."" 1 As Albers was a frequent 
visitor to the school even after his retirement, it is 
inconceivable that he would not have realized the 
drawbacks of the site. Clearly his desire to see Repeat 
and Reverse above the entrance — as a contemporary- 
portal or pediment sculpture — outweighed all other 
considerations. 

Albers responded similarly when invited to design a 
sculpture for the facade of the Landesmuseum in 
Munster. The setting in this case was a newly 
expanded museum and, more specifically, the new 
entrance to the building, which fronted the city's 
central cathedral plaza. Albers, who had grown up 
in nearby Bottrop, who had made drawings in the 
nave of the Munster Cathedral as a young man, and 
who had been the subject of important exhibitions 
at the Landesmuseum in 1959 and 1968, knew 
exactly what to do with the opportunity. According 
to architect Bernd Kosters, during a visit to the 
museum to discuss the project: "Professor Albers 
went immediately to the side of the building with 
the main entrance and said he wanted to work there. 
In addition, he also made it clear that he was not 
thinking of a mural in color, but of a sculpture. "" 

Although not without certain problems, the work 
completed in 1972, Two Supraportas — meaning 
literally "two elements above the doors" — is a 
marked success (fig. 14). The two Constellations that 
Albers selected are attached to the facade, which 
projects directly over the entrance to the museum. 
They are affixed to a series of five charcoal-gray 
granite panels, which recede left to right in parallel 
stepped planes. Although the facade steps back 
approximately ten feet from side to side, Albers 
insisted — against the will of his architect, once 



again — that the Constellations span these large 
spatial divisions. Unfazed by either architectural 
dictate or difficult structural problems, he moved 
boldly ahead and assumed control of the project him- 
self. 

Albers's determination had altogether happy con- 
sequences for the finished work, as Kosters proved 
a remarkable collaborator. He kept the artist abreast 
of the project throughout its many phases, and 
solicited Albers's advice on numerous issues pertain- 
ing to design and materials. For his part the artist 
immersed himself in these details, and his 
correspondence reveals surprising insight into 
obscure construction matters. This communication 
made it possible for Albers to expand his design very 
accurately, a difficult achievement given the precise 
geometry of the graphic work. 

Albers was especially pleased with the finished 
sculpture and remarked that it appeared "unbeliev- 
ably thin and light... so volumetric like three- 
dimensional sculpture. " i; Tiro Supraportas is also 
tremendously successful as an expressly modern 
public emblem, particularly when mounted above 
the entrance to a museum. Although far more 
successful than the Yale sculpture, both Tivo Sup- 
raportas and Repeat and Reverse evidence Albers's 
understanding of the traditional appearance and 
meaning of portal and pediment sculpture. With 
their dynamic shapes and sleek materials, these 
works are distinctly modern public forms, and their 
placement grants them extraordinary visibility and 
power. 

When Josef Albers died in March 1976, two projects 
remained unfinished. The first, an enormous relief 
titled Wrestling (fig. 15), was all but complete and 
would be installed within a few weeks of the artist's 
death. Constructed of aluminum channel and 
mounted on a black anodized-aluminum wall, 
Wrestling measures over fifty feet high. It was 
commissioned by the architect Harry Seidler, a 
student of Albers at Black Mountain in 1947 and a 
longtime friend. As conceived and sited the relief 




5 Wrestling. 1976 

Aluminum channel on anodized 

aluminum, 56 x 40' 

Mutual Life Centre, Sydney, Austral 



plays an integral role in Seidler's Mutual Lite Centre, 
an extensive office and retail complex in Sydney, 
Australia. The main element of the center is an 
imposing seventy-story office tower, which was 
nearing completion at the time Wrestling was 
mounted. 

In designing the complex, Seidler faced a number of 
challenging dilemmas." 4 The complex stands in the 
center of Sydney, and the large side-wall of an 
existing building faced disagreeably on his site. 
Beyond needing to sheathe this intrusive structure, 
Seidler also sought to add a form which might 
mediate the scale and visual power of his tower. At 
seventy stories the MLC Tower was the tallest 
building in the southern hemisphere at the time of 
its construction, and it was much taller than any of 
the buildings in the area. 

Knowing of Albers's recent work in Miinster, Seidler 
invited the artist to contribute a relief to the complex. 
He did so with the knowledge that Albers's graphic 
work could handle architectural scale, and he also 
believed that a very large relief would assist in solving 
his complicated problem. As the construction 
photograph demonstrates, when mounted on a black 
wall Wrestling sheathes the neighboring facade to 
great effect. Even more impressive, however, is the 
manner in which it graduates the scale of the tower. 

In contrast to Wrestling, which lacked only installa- 
tion at the time of Albers's death, the Stanford Wall 
would not be completed until 1980, nearly ten years 
after the project was conceived. Such a long gestation 
period was necessary because of the exceedingly 
complex nature of the work. The design required 
precise components, unusual materials, sensitive 
decisions regarding a site, and exacting construction 
standards. Not least of these complicating factors 
was Albers's death, as this was the artist's only large- 
scale project not commissioned by an architect. 1 ' 
The Stanford Wall is a two-sided, freestanding 
planar-relief sculpture, completely independent of 
architecture except that it is a wall (figs. 16, 17). The 




[6 Stanford Wall (brick side). 1980 

Arkansas brick, African granite, stainless 
and gloss-plated steel, 8'8"x 54' x 1' 
Lomita Mall, Stanford University, California 




:- Stanford Wall (granite side). 1980 

Arkansas brick, African granite, stainless 
and gloss-plated steel, 8'8"x 54' x 1' 
Lomita Mall, Stanford University, California 



work is nearly nine feet high, fifty-four feet long and 
a ver) narrow one foot wide. One side is composed 
of black, gloss-plated steel rods affixed in rhythmic 
sequence to the mortar courses of a white brick wall; 
the other consists of sheets of black African granite 
to which Albers attached a series of four stainless- 
steel Constellations. It is immediately evident that 
the Stanford Wall encapsulates Albers's previous art- 
in-architecture projects: the brick murals, the 
"skyscraper" style and the stainless-steel Constella- 
tions are all present in this work. 
But if the Stanford Wall serves as a summary 
statement of Albers's graphic art as translated to 
large scale, it marks several firsts in the artist's oeuvre 
which are ultimately more significant. Most obvious 
is the freestanding planar-relief format, which has 
no precedent in Albers's work and only a few in 
modern sculpture. It is this format which allows his 
designs to interact fully and sculpturally with natural 
light (the wall is seen to best advantage at noon, 
when the sunlight causes the horizontal bars to defy 
their form and cast long vertical shadows down the 
white brick face). This was also the first occasion 
on which Albers worked without a commission, as 
he donated the design to Stanford with the under- 
standing that the university would fund, construct 
and maintain the sculpture. His drawings were, in 
fact, rendered by the architect Craig Ellwood, and 
following the artist's death, another architect, Robert 
Middlestadt, supervised the project for Stanford. In 
a very real sense, the architects were now working 
for the artist. 

A word must be said as well about the design. Albers's 
arr-in-architecture works were always site-specific— 
they were conceived and developed in response to 
the nature and proportions of the space and mate- 
rials available to him. At Stanford Albers was free 
to design as he pleased, and the complex graphic 
language which he selected suggests a theme of 
constant evolution and flux within a carefully 
considered discipline. This is particularly true of the 
four Constellations, in which rigorously cir- 



cumscribed spatial relations on the left give way to 
the most fleeting interaction, as the paired figures 
on the right are joined by only a single linear element. 
Although the Constellations had assumed emble- 
matic character in Minister and Sydney on the basis 
of their public prominence and scale, the Stanford 
project was the first occasion on which Albers, at 
the very end of his life, was able to reflect on the 
relentless passage of time and the fragile existence 
of humanity in the universe. 

Though not Albers's central achievement — the 
Homage to the Square series must be accorded its 
due — the art-in-architecture work is an essential 
element in the artist's portfolio. Indeed, it is signifi- 
cant that on only three occasions did he employ his 
Homages in architectural settings, perhaps in the 
belief that the graphic work was underappreciated 
by his public. More important were Albers's assump- 
tion of the new challenges which the art-in-architec- 
ture projects afforded him late in life, and his growth 
beyond the dictates and decisions of others into an 
artist possessing full confidence in his work at 
monumental scale. 



i Quoted in Eleanor Bitterman, Art in Modem Architecture, 
New York, Reinhold Publishing Company, 1451, p. 148. The 
Harvard project is published in "Harvard Builds a Graduate 
Yard." Architectural l-orum, vol. 93, December 1950, pp. 
62-71. In addition to Albers, Jean Arp, Joan Miro, Herbert 
Bayer and Anni Albers contributed works of art to the 
complex. 
2 Gropius described the process by which artists were 
commissioned as follows: 

The artists 111 the vicinity, such as Josef Alhers. . . came to 
see us, the architects, and we discussed very thoroughly 
the kind of work possible for this particular group of 

buildings All along I put definite stress on getting the 

1'iopei space relationships, irith the aim that the painter 
01 sculptor supports the idea of the architecture and vice 
versa. 
Quoted in Bitterman, Art in Modem Architecture, p. 67. 
5 Bitterman. Art in Modem Architecture, p. 14S. 
4 This essay derives from my doctoral dissertation. The Murals 
and Sculpture of Josef Alhers Stanford University, [983 . 
New York and London, Garland Publishing, Inc., Outstand- 



ing Dissertations in the Fine Arts, 1985. Thanks are due 
Nicholas Fox Weber, Anni Albers, Maria Makela and, in 
particular, Albert E. Elsen, for his ongoing support. 

5 Quoted in Hans M. Wingler, The Bauhaus, Wolfgang Jabs 
and Basil Gilbert, trans., Joseph Stein, ed., Cambridge, 
Massachusetts, and London, the MIT Press, 1969, p. 31. 

6 In addition to a sabbatical year spent in Mexico in 1947, 
Albers taught on various occasions in Cuba, Chile, Peru and 
Mexico. Based on photographs the artist took which are 
today in the collection of The Josef Albers Foundation, we 
know he visited such Pre-Columbian sites as Chichen Itza, 
El Tajin, Mitla, Monte Alban, Palenque, Tenayuca, Teopan- 
zolco, Teotihuacan, Xochicalco and Uxmal in Mexico, and 
Macchu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, Chan Chan and Huaca del 
Sol in Peru. 

7 Quoted in "Truthfulness in Art," typescript of a lecture 
delivered at Black Mountain College in the late 1930s. The 
text is included in volume I of the Josef Albers Papers in 
the Library of The Museum of Modern Art. If Albers found 
a model in Pre-Columbian art-in-architecture, in contempo- 
rary Mexican art he studied another tradition which he 
rejected. For him the murals of Rivera, Siquieros and 
Orozco: 

. . . merely present a story, illustration, or decorative nicety 
or the wall is treated as a landscape for private or political 
disclosures and extrai ■agances. Ton often they are enlarged 
easel paintings which can hang anywhere else and which 
add or subtract little to or from the structure or space 

Quoted in Bitterman, Art in Modern Architecture, p. 148. 
S I am indebted to King Lui Wu for the time we spent together 

viewing these brick murals and discussing Albers's work in 

November 1980 and in October 1981. Both houses are 

published in King Lui Wu, "Notes on Architecture Today," 

Perspecta, 1959, pp. 29-36. 
9 For St. Patrick's see "Medieval Forms Transformed," 

Progressive Architecture, vol. XLIV, November 1963, pp. 

136-139. 

I o While teaching at the Institute of Technology in Lima in 

1953, Albers traveled extensively in Peru. He visited and 
photographed a number of Colonial churches, including San 
Bias in Cuzco and San Agostino in Arequipa. 

I I Based on the author's conversation with Reverend Baldwin 
Dworschak, former abbot of St. John's Abbey, and Frank 
Kacmarcik, Collegeville, Minnesota, May 31, 1981. The most 
thorough history of Breuer's work at St. John's is Whitney 
Stoddard, Adventure in Architecture: Building the New St. 
John's, New York, Longmans, Green and Company, 1958. 

1 1 This discovery was made by scientists at Corning Glass 
Works, where the glass for White Cross Window was 
manufactured. The invention of photosensitive glass is 
described in S. D. Stookey, "Photo-Sensitive Glass: A New- 
Photographic Medium," Industrial and Engineering 
Chemistry, vol. 41, April 1949, pp. 856-861. 



This work, Rosa mystica ora pro nobis, now destroyed, was 
installed in St. Michael's Church in Bottrop. The only known 
reproduction of the window is in the collection of the Busch- 
Reisinger Museum. The work is discussed in Irving Leonard 
Finkelstein, The Life and Art of Josef Albers (Ph.D. 
dissertation, New York University, 1968), microfilm, Ann 
Arbor, Michigan, University Microfilms International, 1979, 
pp. 38 ff. 

The Sommerfeld commission is described in detail in Marcel 
Franciscono, Walter Cropius and the Creation of the 
Bauhaus at Weimar, Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 
1971, pp. 40-44. 

My reconstruction of these events, described in greater detail 
in The Murals and Sculpture of Josef Albers, pp. 48-51, is 
based on interviews with Anni Albers, Nicholas Fox Weber, 
Hamilton Smith of Marcel Breuer and Associates, Reverend 
Baldwin Dworschak and Frank Kacmarcik conducted in 
E981. 

See Jiirgen Wissmann, Josef Albers: Murals in New York, 
Stuttgart, Philipp Reclam Verlag, t97i. The Corning Glass 
Building is published in "The Big Mirror," Architectural 
Forum, vol. 110, May 1959, pp. 116-121. 
Publications on the Pan Am Building include Emerson 
Goble, "Pan Am Makes a Point," Architectural Record, vol. 
131, May 1961, pp. 195-200; James T. Burns, Jr., "A 
Behemoth is Born," Progressive Architecture, vol. 44, April 
1963, pp. 59-62; and "The Problem with Pan Am," 
Architectural Record, vol. 133, May 1963, pp. 151-158. 
From an unpublished statement on Manhattan in the artist's 
files, The Josef Albers Foundation, Orange, Connecticut. 
"Structural Sculpture" was originally published in the 
catalogue to the exhibition Robert Engman: Recent 
Sculpture held at the Stable Gallery, New York, in February- 
March i960. 

For Rudolph's Art and Architecture Building see Vincent 
Scully, "Art and Architecture Building, Yale University," 
Architectural Review, vol. 135, May 1964, pp. 324-332; and 
Walter McQuade and Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, "A Building That 
Is an Event," Architectural Forum, vol. 120, February 1964, 
pp. 6 2-8 5. 

Correspondence with the author, January 4, 1980. 
Correspondence with the author, September 3, 1981. 
Josef Albers to Bernd Kosters, April 5, 1972. Courtesy of 
Bernd Kosters. 

I am indebted to Harry Seidler for discussing Wrestling with 
me during my visit to Sydney in March 1981. In part this 
section of my essay also derives from a lecture Seidler 
delivered to the Sydney Institute of Architects on March 23, 
1981, which I attended. 

Publications on the Stanford Wall include Albert E. Elsen, 
"A 'Stunning Presence' at Stanford," Art News, vol. 80, 
January 1981, pp. 64-65; and Robert Middlestadt, "Homage 
to the Mall," Archetype, vol. II, Autumn 1980, pp. 7-8. 



Catalogue 



Unless otherwise noted, all works are Collection 
The Josef Albers Foundation. 

Titles are given in English, followed by the artist's 
original German titles, if they exist, in parentheses. 

''Indicates not illustrated. 



Farm Woman with Kerchief, ca. 1914 
Crayon and pencil on paper, 8 5 /s x io 3 /V 
(22.1 x 2.7.3 cm -) 




Gk^a^j- 



i Self-Portrait I. ca. 1914-15 
Pencil on paper, 17V16 x 13 Vs" 
(43-3 x 33.3 cm.) 




3 Self -Portrait, ca. 1915 
Oil on canvas, 11 Vi x 9'/s" 
(2.8.5 x i 3- i cm -) 




4 Still Life with Russian Box (Stilleben 
mit russischer Dose), ca. 1914 
Tempera on canvas, 15M/16 x i4 3 /s" 
(40.5 x 36.5 cm.) 
Private Collection 




5 Masks and Vase. 1916 

Tempera on canvas, 19V1 x 15" 
(49.5 x 38 cm.) 
Private Collection 




6 Sandpits, ca. 1916 

Ink on paper mounted on paper, 
8 3 /s x 10V4" (2.1.3 x z ^-i cm.) 




- Rabbit I. ca. 1916 S Rabbit 11. ca. 1916 

Lithographic crayon on paper. Lithographic crayon on paper, 

io'A x 13W (26.1 x 34.6 cm.) to'/4 x 13 Vs" (z6.i x 34 cm.) 



%< 












9 Dorsten Town Hall. ca. 1917 
Lithographic crayon on paper, 
i7 3 /i6 x i2 3 /s" (43.7 x 31.5 cm.) 



10 Church Interior, ca. 1917 

Pencil and ink on paper, 18% x 
(48 x 30.5 cm.) 










Study for "( htring I" ( Workers' iz Study for "Ostring IV" (Workers' 
Houses Series), ca. [917 Houses Series), ca. 19 1- 

Lithographic crayon on paper. Lithographic crayon on paper, 

N' i6 \ iz 7 /g" (2.0.5 x 3 2 -7 cm -) 7 1 / 2 x 13V4" (19. 1 x 33.6 cm.) 





\ 




















V. 



■v 



[3 Study for "Empty End" (Workers' 
Houses Series), ca. 1917 
Lithographic crayon on paper, 
7% x 13%" (20.1 x 34.7 cm.) 



14 Lamppost and Houses, ca. 1917 
Lithographic crayon on paper, 
sight, 8 x 9%" (20.3 x 24.8 cm.) 




15 Self-Portrait III. ca. 1917 

Lithographic crayon on paper, 
[9 x isVi" (48.3 x 39.4 cm.) 



16 Schoolgirl VII. ca. 19 17 
Ink on paper, 9 x 9 1 :" 
(22.9 x 24.1 cm.) 

17 Schoolgirl VIII. c.\. r.917 
Ink on paper, 7x5" 

(17.7 x 12.7 cm.) 

18 Schoolgirl VI. ca. 1917 
Ink on paper, 13% x 10 'A' 
(34.9 x 26.1 cm.) 



4 



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5Sfc 



* 



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19 Duck with Head Down. ca. r.917 
Ink on paper, 10 1 4 \ 14" i„" 
(26.1 x 36.7 cm.) 

10 Standing Bird, Front View. ca. 19 17 
Ink on paper, 10' 1. \ 6 s" 
(26.2 x 16.8 cm.) 





#«y 



\h 





.1 Four Geese, ca. 1917 




2-4 


Tzt'o Roosters, ca. 1917 


26 Owl II. ca. 1917 


Ink on paper, ioVs x 


[2 5 / 8 " 




Ink on paper, i2 5 /s x ioVs" 


Ink on reverse of wallpaper, 


(25.7 x 32.1 cm.) 






(32.1 x 2.5.7 cm -) 


i9 3 /4 x i4 3 /t" (50.2 x 37.5 cm.) 


2 Geese I. ca. 1917 




2-5 


Three Chickens, ca. 1917 




Ink on paper, ioVs x 


[2%" 




Ink on paper, i2 5 /s x 10" 




(25.7 x 32..1 cm.) 






(32.1 x 2,5.5 cm -) 




3 Two Geese, ca. 1917 










Ink on paper, ioVs x 


[2 5 / 8 " 








(25.7 x 32.1 cm.) 














The Procession (Green Flute Series). 
ca. 1917 

Lithograph on paper, 11 x ii'Vio" 
(30.5 x 55.7 cm.) 



**L~ 



^f 



/fh 



■T. 



? 

1 * 




Dancer, ca. 1917 
Pencil on paper, 14Z 
(36.7 x 2.5.9 crn -) 



19 Dancers, ca. 1917 

Pencil on paper, i} 3 /-* x io 3 /i< 
(34.9 x 25.9 cm.) 



Man Reading Newspaper, ca. 
Pencil on paper, 12 1 ' i- x 9" 
(32.9 x 22.9 cm.) 







31 Electrical Repairmen, cd. 191 

Pencil on paper, 1 1 ' 8 x % l A" 
(28.2 x 21 cm.) 



' ! fc ' ; J 






32 House with Trees in Notteln. ca. 1918 
Pencil and ink on paper, 13 I3 /i6 x 10V4" 
(35.1 x 26.1 cm.) 




3 3 Pwze Forest in Sauerland 

(SauerlandtscherTannenwald). ca. 1918 

Ink on paper, i2 5 /s x 9%" 
(32.1 x 24.6 cm.) 




34 Bavarian Mountain Scene I. ca. 1919 
Ink on paper, io'/s x n 5 /s" 
(25.7 x 32.1 cm.) 



35 Bavarian Mountain Scene II. ca. 1919 
Ink on paper, 10 x iiVs" 
(25.5 x 32.1 cm.) 







36 Self-Portrait VI. ca. 1919 
Ink on paper, 11V2 x 7 3 A" 
(19.1 x 19.7 cm.) 

37 Dancing Pair. ca. 1919 

Ink on paper, iz"/ih x ioVs" 
(32.3 x 25.7 cm.) 

38 Standing Nude I. ca. 1919 
Ink on paper, iz 5 /s x ioW 
(32.1 x 25.6 cm.) 

39 Standing Nude II. ca. 1919 
Ink on paper, i2 5 /s x ioW 





40 Figure. 1921 

Glass assemblage, ziVi x 15 Vz" 
(54.6 x 39-4 cm.) 

Collection The Metropolitan Museum 
of Art, New York, Gift of the artist, 1972 




4i Rhenish Legend (Rheinische Legende). 
1921 

Glass assemblage, 19 1 ; x 1- 2" 
(49-5 x 44-4 cm.) 

Collection The Metropolitan Museum 
of Art, New York, Gift of the artist. 19-2 




Untitled (Window Picture 
[Fenster-Bild]). 19 2.1 
Glass assemblage, 25 x 2.1% x 8-Vs" 
(58.9 x 55.3 x 2.1.3 cm.) 
Collection Hirshhorn Museum and 
Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian 
Institution, Washington, D.C., Gift of 
Joseph H. Hirshhorn, 1972 




43 Untitled, ca. 1921 
Glass assemblage, 14^ 
(37.5 x Z9.8 cm.) 




Grid Mounted. 192: 
Glass assemblage, 1: 
(32.4 \ 28.9 cm.) 



Photographer Unknown 

Two Views of Stair Hall, Grassi 

Museum, Leipzig (Destroyed 1944) 

Showing Stained-Glass "Windows 

Designed by Albers in 1923-24. n.d. 

2 photographs, each 6V2 x 9" 

( us x 2.2.9 cm.) 



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46 Bauhaus Bookshelf. 192.3 

Photograph, 8 3 A x6V2"(zz.}x 16cm.) 

Courtesy Prakapas Gallery, New York 

4^ Bauhaus Table. 1923 
Photograph, 6V2 \ 8V4" 
(16 x 22.3 cm.) 
Courtesy Prakapas Gallery, New York 





48 Fruit Bowl. 1923 

Chrome-plated brass, painted wood 
and glass, 2% x i4 3 /s"(7.5 x 36.5 cm.) 
diameter 

Collection Bauhaus-Archiv, W. Berlin. 
Gift of the artist, 1961 



Tea Glasses with Saucers. 1926 

A. Heat resistant glass, nickel-plated 
steel, Bakelite and porcelain (left), 
2.V2 x 5 y s " (5.7 x 13.7 cm.) 

B. Heat resistant glass, stainless steel, 
ebony and porcelain (right), 

2V2 x 5 3 /8" (5.7 x 13.7 cm.) 
Collection Bauhaus-Archiv, W. Berlin 
Gift of the artist 




"^« 




5 o Bauhaus Lettering Set (Kombinations- 
schrift) ca. 1926 

Opaque glass mounted on wood, 
24 x 24" (61 x 61 cm.) 
Collection The Museum of Modern 
Art, New York, Gift of the artist, 1957 



o 








Vo 



VJ 



uU 



V 



Pli 


_(PU 


w(0 


\ 



J o 



JIIUBULU 




Illustration of Design for Remodeled 
Storefront— Ullstein Publishing Co., 
Berlin (Entwurf fur einen Ladenumbau) 
In Offset: Buck und Werbekunst, Leipzig, 
vol. 7, special Bauhaus issue, 1926, 
izVu x 9 3 /i6" (30.7 x 23.3 cm.) 

Illustration of Design for Remodeled 
Corner Store— Ullstein Publishing Co., 
Berlin (Entwurf filr Eckladenitmbau) 

In Offset: Bitch und Werbekunst, Leipzig, 
vol. 7, special Bauhaus issue, 1926, 
12V16 x 9 3 /i6" (30.7 x 23.3 cm.) 
Collection Ex Lihris, New York 





Stacking Tables, ca. 7926 
Wood and painted glass, i5 5 /s x 16V2 > 
isV (39.2 x 41.9 x 40 cm.); i8Vs x 
[8 7 /s x \s ! 4" (4-. 3 x 48 x 40cm.); 21% 
x ii x 15 ! 4" (55.4 x 53.3 x 40 cm.); 

24 5 /s X 23 5 /8 X 15%" (62.6 X 60.1 X 

40.3 cm.) 

Collection Andrea and John Weil, 

Saskatoon 




54 Writing Desk. ca. 1926 

Wood and painted glass, 30 x 3 5 3 /s x 
23"(76.i x 89.8 x 58. 9cm.), with leaf 
extended, 30 x 52V4 x 23" (76.2 x 127.6 
x 58.9 cm.) 
Collection Esther M. Cole 



BH 



Fugue, ca. 1925 

Sandblasted flashed glass, 9V4 x 2.5%" 

(24.8 x 65.7 cm.) 




56 Fugue II. 1925 

Sandblasted flashed glass, irregular, 
ca. 6V4 x 2z 7 /s" (15.8 x 58.1 cm.) 
Collection Hirshhorn Museum and 
Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institu- 
tion, Washington, D.C., Gift of Joseph 
H. Hirshhorn Foundation, 1972 




Factory, ca. 1925 

Sandblasted flashed glass, l-j'/s x iSV\b" 

(35.8 x 45.8 cm.) 

Collection Yale University Art Gallery. 
New Haven, Gift of Anni Albers and 
The Josef Albers Foundation 




Latticework, ca. 1926 
Sandblasted flashed glass, u'/t x n 7 /s" 
(2.8.5 x 3 - 1 cm ') 

Collection Hirshhorn Museum and 
Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institu- 
tion, Washington, D.C., Gift of Joseph 
H. Hirshhorn Foundation, 1974 




59 Upward, a. 192.6 

Sandblasted flashed glass, 
(43.2 x 19.8 cm.) 



■I ■ 

■I ■ 

■I ■ 

■i ■ 

■1 ■ 



6o Dominating White. 19 z - 
Sandblasted flashed glass, 8 1 . 
(2.1.5 x 2.9.2 cm.) 






61 Study for "Frontal." ca. m;- 

Pencil and ink on graph paper, 
i6Vs x i-i l A" (41 x 59.1 cm.) 




62 Frontal. 1927 

Sandblasted flashed glass, 
i3 3 /i6 x i8 3 /s" (33.3 x 46.7 cm.) 



63 Walls and Screens, ca. 1928 
Sandblasted flashed glass, 
12 x io'/s" (30.5 x 26 cm.) 
Collection Mr. and Mrs. James H. 
Clark, Jr., Dallas 




64 Skyscrapers on Transparent Yellou'. 
ca. 1929 

Sandblasted flashed glass, 
i3 3 /8 x i3 3 /ie>" (34 x 33.3 cm.) 




65 Skyscrapers A. 1929 

Sandblasted flashed glass, 
13 '/•» x 13 VV (34.9 x 34.9 cm.) 
Collection Mr. and Mrs. James H. 
Clark, Jr., Dallas 




66 Skyscrapers B. 192.5-29 

Sandblasted flashed glass, 14 l A x 14 W 
(36.2 x 36.2 cm.) 

Collection Hirshhorn Museum and 
Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institu- 
tion, Washington, D.C., Gift of Joseph 
H. Hirshhorn Foundation, 1974 



67 Study for "Pergola." 1929 

Pencil and ink on graph paper, 
12V4 x 10" (3 1.1 x 50.8 cm.) 




in 


=1 (=1 ez=j mm mm — 1 I — 
Z3 □ tzzi mm mm 
zd rzn rzn ■■ Hi 


■ ■ 









68 Pergola. 1929 

Sandblasted flashed glass, 
10V2 x ijW (26.7 x 45.1 cm.) 




6y Interior A. [919 

Sandblasted flashed glass, 
9 3 A x S 1 s" 124.S x 2.0.7 cm.) 



Intend) B. 1929 

Sandblasted flashed glass, 
io s -k x 9'/s" (27 x 21.2 cm.) 




Interior A. 1929 
Sandblasted flashed glass, 
13 x 10" (33 x 25.4 cm.) 
Collection Josef Albers Museum, 
Bottrop, W Germany 



Interior B. 1929 
Sandblasted flashed glass, 
13 x 10" 33 x 25.4 cm. 
Collection Josef Albers Museum, 
Bottrop, W. Germany 




73 Windows. 1919 

Sandblasted flashed glass, 
13' 4 x I4 3 A" (33.6 x 37.5 cm.) 
Collection Mr. and Mrs. James H. 
Clark, Jr., Dallas 




74 Glove Stretchers. 193 1 
Sandblasted flashed glass, 
15V2 x 2.0%" (39.4 x 52.7 cm.) 




75 Armchair. 192.8 

Walnut and maple veneers on wood 
with canvas upholstery (replaced 1961 
29 1 s x 2.4 1 4 x z6 9 /ie" (74 x 61.5 x 67. 
Collection Bauhaus-Archiv, W. Berlin 




j6 Armchair. 1929 

Laminated beechwood, tubular steel 
and canvas upholstery, 2.8V2 x 23 x 2 
(72.4 x 58.9 x 72.4 cm.) 
Collection The Museum of Modern 
Art, New York, Gift of the artist 




Oskar Schlemtner, Tut Schlemmer, 

Ernst Kallai and Hans Witttier. 1927-30 
Collage of 11 photographs mounted on 
cardboard, nVs x i6V's" (29.5 x 40.9 cm. 




Paul Klee and Fran Klee, dietary 
[Biarritz]- 1929 

Collage of 3 photographs mounted on 
cardboard, n 5 /s x i6Vs" (2.9.5 x 4 1 cm -) 




79 .4;;/;;. Summer 2.8 (Sommer iS). 1928 
Collage of 2 photographs mounted on 
cardboard, ci 5 /s x 16 s , i„" 
(2.9.5 x 4i-5 cm.) 




136 



So Papal Palace, Avignon (Avignon am 
Papste-Palast). 1929 
Collage of 2 photographs mounted on 
cardboard, 11-Vs x i6Vs" ,29.5 X41 cm/ 




ii Sand, Biarritz, ca. 1919 
Photograph, jVu x 9 15 /i6 
( iS x 25.2 cm.) 



i^SfoU.<^>>; 




138 



Small Beach, Biarritz Kleiner Strand, 
Biarritz), ca. 1929 
Photograph, 9 1 4 x 5 L5 /i6" 
(2.3.5 x I 5- 1 cm -) 



Waves, ca. 1929 

Photograph mounted on cardboard, 
8 5 /s x 5 9 /V (22.1 x 14. 1 cm. 





84 Gropius, Ascona, Summer 30 (Sommer jo). 
1930 

Photograph mounted on cardboard, 
t6Vi x nVs" (41 x 2.9-5 cm.) 




85 Philippo Haurer, Ascona. 1930 

Collage of 3 photographs mounted on 
cardboard, n s /s x i6Vs" (29.5 x 41 cm.) 




Herbert Bayer, Porto Ronco, Italy. 

1930 

Collage of 2 photographs mounted on 

cardboard, iiYx x 16W (19.5 X41 cm.) 





87 Irene Bayer and Muzi, Porto Ronco, I 
1930 

Collage of z photographs mounted on 
cardboard, n 5 /s x i6Vs" (2.9.5 X 4 I cm -) 




Road in Paznauntal. 19,0 
Photograph, 5 1 " \6 \ 9 1 -1" 
(15.J \ 2.3.5 cm.) 




89 Garden Chairs at the Boulevard-Cafe 
on the Kurfiirstendamm [Berlin], Early 
Morning (Gartenstiihle, das Boulevard- 
Kaffee, friihmorgens Kurfiirstendamm). 
ca. 1931 

Photograph, 8% x 6Vs" 
(22.2x16.2 cm.) 




90 View of Maggia-Delta (including 
Ascona), Early Morning, on Lake 
Maggiore (Blick auf Maggia-Delta 
[darauf Ascona] friih am Lago 
Maggiore). ca. 1930 
Photograph, 6V16 x 9'/i«" 



(16 



.3 cm.) 




146 



91 In Front of My 'Window 
(Vor meinem Fenster). 193 
Photograph, 9V8 x 6" 
(13. 2 x 15.2 cm.) 




Plan for Hotel Living Room in the 

Gernnm Budding Exhibition, Berlin, 

May 9-August 2, 19 31 

Pen and ink on paper, 8 Va x i 1 V*" 

(21 x 29.8 cm.) 

Collection Bauhaus-Archiv, W. Berlin, 

Permanent loan from the Vogler family 



D 



O 



n n 



ILL 



148 



Illustration of Hotel Living Room in 

the German Building Exhibition, Berlin, 

May 9-August 2, 19 31 

In Henry Russell, Hitchcock, 

The International Style: Architecture 

Since 19ZZ, New York, W.W. Norton, 

1932, 9V2 x 7 5 /s"(24.i x 19.4 cm.) 

Collection Mark Simon, Connecticut 




4 4 Flying. 1931 

Tempera on paper, 15 '4 x n 13 /i6 
(40 x 30 cm.) 
Private Collection 



95 Steps (St it fen). 193 1 

Gouache and pencil on paper, 18V4 x 
i? 1 // (46.1 x 59.1 cm.) 
Collection Hirshhorn Museum and 
Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian 
Institution, Washington, D.C.,Giftof 
Joseph H. Hirshhorn, 1966 





96 Steps (Stufen). 19 31 

Sandblasted flashed glass, 
15 Vi x 2.0V2" (39.4 x 5 z.i cm.) 
Collection Mr. and Mrs. Paul M. 
Hirschland, New York 



97 Study for "Rolled Wrongly." ca. 1933 
Pencil and ink on blueprint paper, 
17% x 20V2" (44.8 x 52.1 cm.) 



99 Keyboard. 1932 

Sandblasted flashed glass, i4 3 /4 x 2.5V2" 
(37.5 x 64.7 cm.) 



98 Rolled Wrongly. 19 31 
Sandblasted flashed glass, 
16V4 x 16V4" (41.3 x 41.3 cm.) 




ioo Treble Clef Ga. [932-35 

Gouache on paper, 14 1 ' ic x 10" 
(38 x 25.4 cm.) 



101 Treble Clef Gd. 1931-35 

Gouache on paper, sight, 14U \ 8" 
( 56.2 x 20.; cm.) 



102 Treble Clef Ge. 1932-35 

Gouache on paper, sight, 14 l A x 8" 
(36.2 x 20.3 cm.) 



Collection Martina and Michael Yamin Collection Martina and Michael Yamin 





103 Treble Clef Gl. 1932-55 

Gouache on paper, I4 15 /i6 x ioW 
(38 x 26.1 cm.) 



104 Treble Clef Gn. 1932-35 

Gouache on paper, 15 x io 3 /i6 
(38 x 25.9 cm.) 



>5 Treble Clef Go. 193 2- 55 

Gouache on paper, i4 3 /4 x io 3 /s" 
(37.5 x 26.4 cm.) 






Together (Znsammen). 193 
Linoleum cut on paper, 13 
(33.6 x 43.2 cm.) 




156 



107 Sea (Meer). 1933 

Linoleum/woqdcur on paper, 14 x 17%" 
(35.6 x 44.8 cm.) 




Opera (Oper). 1933 

Woodcut on paper, 12% x i- N V 
(32.4 x 44.8 cm.) 




158 



109 Wings. 1934 

Woodcut on paper, 10V2 x i6Vs" 
{2.6.7 x 4 1 - 6 cm.) 




/. 19 U 

Linoleum cut on paper, 13 
(35-3 



;X cm.' 




[i Showcase. 1934 

Linoleum cut -on paper, 147s x 14" 
(37-8 x 35.6 cm.) 




Etude: Hot-Dry. i 
Oil on Masonite, 
(32.4 \ 40 cm.) 




ris Etude: Red-Violet (Christmas 
Shopping). 1935 
Oil on panel, i5 3 /s x 14" 
(39 x 35.6 cm.) 




Four Abstractions, ca. 1935 
Pencil and oil on paper, X" i„ x 
(21.4 x 30.5 cm.) 









ii5 Untitled Abstraction, ca. 1940 
Oil on Victor Talking Machine 
"Victrola" cover, i4 ! /2 x 12V2" 
(36.8 x 31.7 cm.) 




165 



u6 Evening (an improvisation). 1935 
Oil on Masonite, 11 \ iz%" 
(28 x 31.5 cm.) 




ii7 Almost Four (color etude). 1936 
Oil on Masonite, i3 3 /4 x 15 l A" 
(34.9 x 38.7 cm.) 




iN ;;; opt';; air. 1936 

Oil on Masonite, c9 7 /s x 17 
(50.5 x 45.1 cm.) 




H9 Untitled I. 1936 

Ink on paper, 14V2 x 11" 
(36.8 x 28 cm.) 



Untitled X. 1936 

Ink on paper, I5 u /i6 x 11 

(39.9 x 29.2 cm.) 



120 Untitled IX. 1936 

Ink on paper, 15% x n 3 A' 
(40 x 29.8 cm.) 



Untitled XL 1936 

Ink on paper, 15% x n 

(40 x 29.8 cm.) 







169 



[23 Mexican Stonework, ca. C936 

Photograph, ij |! 16 x 6" 1 -" 
(24.9 \ 1-.7 cm.) 




Study for "Tenayuca." ca. 19 5 $ 
Watercolor wash with ink and 
lithographic crayon on paper, 
9I/2 x 15V2" (24.1 x 39.4 cm.) 




■ 5 b and p. 19 57 

Oil on Masonite, 13" s \ 13' 4" 

(60.7 x 59.1 cm.) 

Collection Solomon R. Guggenheii 

Museum, New York 

48.1172 X2.64 




"Related" A. 1937 

Oil on canvas, 23% x i7 3 /t" 
(60.7 x 45.1 cm.) 

Collection Bill Bass, Chicago 




>7 Related I (red). 1938-43 

Oil on Masonite, 14 ' 2 x 1N 1 2' 
(62.5 X 4" cm.) 




128 Variant of "Related." ca. 1940 
Oil on Masonke, 16V2 x 13 W 
(41.9 x 33.3 cm.) 




.*)A,b Two Studies for "Any Center." ca. 1938 
A. Oil and pencil on paper, 
13 x 17W (33 x 44-i cm.) 



B. Oi 

5 ' -> x 



id pencil on board, 
/is" (13.4 x 10.- en 




i 50 Gate, ii) ;fi 

Oil on Masonite, i9 3 /i<= x 20 1 1.," 
(48.7 \ so. 9 cm.) 

Collection Yale University Art Gallei 
New Haven, Gift of Collection of 
Societe Anonyme 




Cadence. 1940 

Oil on Masonite, z8 7 /i6 x 2.8 3 /i6" 

(72.3 x 71.6 cm.) 

Collection Yale University Art Gallery, 
New Haven, Gift of Anni Albers and 
The Josef Albers Foundation 




Two Studies for "Movement in Gr 
ca. 1939 

A. Pencil on paper, 5 3 /s x 7V4" 
(13.7 x 18.4 cm.) 

B. Pencil on paper, 5 3 /s x 7V4" 
(13.7 x 18.4 cm.) 



133 Movement in Gray. 1939 

Oil on Masonite, 36 x 35" 
(91.4 x 88. 9 cm.) 




134 Equal and Unequal. 1959 
Oil on Masonite, 19 x 40" 
(48.3 x 101.fi cm.) 
Collection Anni Alhers 





15 Bent Black (A). 1940 

Oil and casein on panel, 39-V4 x 28" 

(101 x 71.2 cm.) 

Collection Addison Gallery of American Art, 

Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, 

Gift of Mrs. Frederick E. Donaldson 




Bent Black (B). 1940 

Oil on fiberboard, 26 x 19V4" 

[66 x 48.9 cm.) 

Collection Hirshhorn Museum and 

Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian 

Institution, Washington, D.C., Gift of 

Joseph H. Hirshhorn, 1966 




[37 Bent Dark Gray. 1943 

Oil on Masonite, 19 x 14" 
(48.2 x 35.6 cm.) 

Collection Solomon R. Guggenheir 
Museum, New York 




Growing. 1940 

Oil on Masonite, 24 x z6 3 A" 
{61 x 67.9 cm.) 

Collection San Francisco Museum of 
Modern Art, Gift of Charlotte Mack 




[39 Layered. 1940 

Oil on Masonite, 23V2 
(59.7 x 71.2 cm.) 




187 



Tierra Verde. 1940 
Oil on Masonite, 21 'A 
(57.8 x 71.2 cm.) 




141 To Mitla. 1940 

Oil on Masonite, 21 Vi x 2.8W' 
(54.6 x 71.4 cm.) 




142 


Study for "Open." 1940 




Oil on paper, iS'/s x 19V 




(60 x 48.9 cm.) 




Private Collection 




143 Open. ca. 1940 

Oil on paper, 16 x 19" 

(40.6 x 48.3 cm.) 

Collection Hollins College, Roanoke, 

Virginia 




144 Open (B). December 1940 

Oil on Masonite, [9% \ i9 5 /s" 

(50.- x 49.8 cm.) 

Collection Solomon R. Guggenheim 

Museum, New York 

48.1172 X163 




145 Concealing. December 1940 

Oil on pressed wood, ly'/s x 2.3 W 
(70.8 x 59.1 cm.) 

Collection Solomon R. Guggenheim 
Museum, New York 
48.1172 X265 




i4'' Janus. 1936-48 

Oil on Masonite, 42 1 2 \ 57 1 2" 
(107.9 x 95.2 cm.) 

Collection Josef Albers Museum, 
Bottrop, W. Germany 




147 Leaf Study I. ca. 1940 

Collage of leaves on paper, 9V2 
(24.1 x 45.7 cm.) 



i 4 .S Leaf Study III. ca. 1940 

Collage of leaves on paper, i _; -< \ [8 5 /s" 
(45.1 x 4-. 3 cm.) 




149 Leaf Study VI. 1942 

Collage of leaves on paper, sight, 
ijVa x 20" (43.9 x 50. S cm.) 




C50 Leaf Study II. ca. [940 

Collage of leaves on paper, 14 ' 
(36.8 x 46.7 cm.) 




151 Leaf Study IV. ca. 1940 

Collage of leaves on paper, i8 9 /i6 x 
2.2.V2" (47. z x 57.1 cm.) 




15 z Three Postcards Framed Together 

top: 

a good 39. 1938 
Gouache on paper, 5" in x 3V2" 
: 3 .7 x 8.8 cm.) 

middle: 

Merry ( '.hristmas and Happy New Year. 

ca. 1940 

Gouache on paper, 3V2 x •;" 1.." 



bottom: 

!r///' .;// best wishes far '4;. 1942 

Inscribed: take this southern parkscape 

as a good symbol in spite of its ban tque 

curves- A 

Gouache on paper, 3 7 /i6 x 5V2" 

(8.7 x 14 cm.) 




153 Birds, ca. 1938 

Photograph, 9V4 x 7 3 /V 
(24.8 x 19.7 cm.) 



m ' 



ft ' \ *■ / 

, % * s * x * f * 

K ' ' * 4 
* * 



* 1 v 





a.i 



154 Study for "Proto-Form B" (no. i). 19 
Oil on fiberboard, 10V2 x 9V4" 
(26.7 x 24.8 cm.) 

Collection Hirshhorn Museum and 
Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institu- 
tion, Washington, D.C., Gift of Joseph 
H. Hirshhorn Foundation, 1974 




155 Study for "Proto-FormB" (no. 2). 1938 
Oil on fiberboard, 10V2 x 9%" 
(26.7 x 24. 8 cm.) 

Collection Hirshhorn Museum and 
Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institu- 
tion, Washington, D.C., Gift of Joseph 
H. Hirshhorn Foundation, 1974 





^|£ 



156 Escape. 1942 

Drypoint on paper, 7% x 10W 
(20 x 26.1 cm.) 



157 Maternity. 1942 

Drypoint on paper, i2 15 /i6 x 9 15 /i< 
(32.9 x 25.2 cm.) 

158 Eh-De. 1940 

Drypoint on paper, 8 7 /s x io 7 /s" 
(22.6 x 27.2 cm.) 

159 Eddie Dreier. ca. 1938 
Photograph, 6'A x 9 5 /V 
(15.8 x 23.7 cm.) 



/ — v 

' ^ Qryk 

/^^\ AX 1 / J s 






160 Graphic Tectonic III. 
ca. [941-42 

Ink on paper, I', - i \ i~ 
(60. 7 x 45.4 cm.) 




a Seclusion (Graphic Tectonic Series). 1942 
Zinc lithograph on paper, m x 13 Vx" 
(48.3 x 60.1 cm.) 



i6z Study for "Memento" (I). 
Oil and pencil on paper, i 
(40.7 x 30.5 cm.) 
I'm ate Collection 



[63 Study for "Memento" (II). 
Oil and pencil on paper, t: 
(31.7 \ 44.4 cm.) 
Private Collection 





Memento. 1943 

Oil on Masonite, I8V2 x 20W 

(47 x 52.4 cm.) 

Collection Solomon R. Guggenheim 

Museum, New York 

48.1172 X262 




[65 Penetrating (B). 1945 

Oil, casein and tempera on Masonite, 
21 ! /a x 2.4%" (54.3 x 63.2 cm.) 
Collection Solomon R. Guggenheim 
Museum, New York 

48.1172 Xlhl 




166 Untitled Abstraction. 1943 

Oil on Masonite, 15V4 x 2.} 3 A' 
(40 x 60.3 cm.) 




Cork relief print, n x 15 W 
(30.5 x 39.4 cm.) 




168 Astatic. 1944 

Woodcut on paper, 17V2 x 11 
(44.4 x 18.2 cm.) 
Collection Anni Albers 




Woodcut on paper, 14 ' 2 \ i>" 
(36.8 x 58 cm.) 




170 Light Construction. 1945 

Ink and oil on Masonite, 17 x 2.8 W 
(43.2 x 71.7 cm.) 




Structural Constellation II. ca. 1950 

Machine-engraved Vinylite mounted on 
board, 17 x 11V2" (4^.1 x 57.1 cm.) 




172 Structural Constellation III. ca. 1950 
Machine-engraved Vinylite mounted on 
board, 17 x 22 Vi" (43.2 X57.1 cm.) 




[73 Structural Constellation: Transformation 
<>/ a Scheme No. 11. 1950 
Machine-engraved Vinylite mounted on 
board, 1- x 2.2. 1 2" (43.2 x 57.1 cm.) 



174 Structural Constellation: Transformation 
of a Scheme No. ig. 1950 
Machine-engraved Vinylite mounted on 
hoard, 17 x zi'/i" (43.2 x 57.1 cm.) 




[75 Structural Constellation I. ca. 1950 

Machine-engraved Vinylite mounted on 
board, 17 x 2.2. Vi" (43 .2 x 57.1 cm.) 




176 Structural Constellation F-32. 1954 

Machine-engraved Vinylite mounted on 
board, 17 xzzVi" (43.2 X57.1 cm.) 




Study for a Variant (I), ca. 
Oil and pencil on paper, 9 1 / 
(24.1 x 30.7 cm.) 




i - 8 Study for "Variant: Four Central Warm 

Colors Surrounded by 2 Blues." ca. 1948 
Oil on paper, 19 x 2.37s" (48.3 x 60.- cm.) 




c79 Variant. i^4 - -^i 

Oil on Masonite, 13V1 x z6Vi' 

(34.3 \ 67.3 cm.) 

Collection Theodore .ind Barba 




Adobe (Variant): Luminous Day. 

1947-51 

Oil on Masonite, 11 x 21V2" 

(28 x 54.6 cm.) 

Collection Maximilian Schell 




Variant: Outer Gray/Repeated in 
Center. 1948 

Oil on Masonite, 19V2 x 29W 
(49.5 x 74 cm.) 




i8z Variant: Harboured. 1947-52 
Oil on Masonite, 15 x 32%" 
(63.5 x 83.5 cm.) 
Collection Don Page, New York 




[83 Variant: Pink Orange Surrounded by 
4 Grays. 1947-52 
Oil on Masonite, is 1 : x 2- 1 4" 
(39.4 \ 69.2 cm.) 




184 Adobe (Variant): New Mexico 
Black-Pink. 1947 
Oil on Masonite, izVs x 24" 
(30.8 x 61 cm.) 
Collection Bill Bass, Chicago 




Variant: Brown, Ochre, Yellow. 1948 
Oil on Masonite, 18 x 2.5V2" (45.7 x 




186 Variant: Southern Climate. 1948-55 

Oil on Masonite, 12.V4 x zzVi" 
(31.1 x 57.1 cm.) 




i.s- Variant: Inside and Out. C948-53 
Oil on composition board, [7% s 
2.6 9 /i6" (44. 8 x 67.4 cm.) 
Collection Wadsworth Atheneum, 
Hartford, The Ella Gallup Sumner and 
Mary Catlin Sumner Collection 




Variant. 1948-52 

Oil on Masonite, 15% x 2.3 Vi" 

(40 x 59.1 cm.) 

Collection Josef Albers Museum, 

Bottrop, W. Germany 




iXi; Variant. [948-55 

Oil on Masonite, 16 x 
(40.6 x 78.7 cm.) 




190 Variant: Four Reds Around Blue. 1948 
Oil on Masonite, 21-Vs x 2.3" (54.3 x 
58.9 cm.) 
Private Collection 



^HM 




. 




191 Study for a Variant (II). ca. 1947 
Oil and pencil on paper, 9 1 /: x 12 
(24.1 x 30.5 cm.) 




192 Color Swatches, n.d. 

Oil and pencil on cardboard, 16 1 , 
25VV (41.9 x 64.1 cm.) 






19 1 Two Studies for "Interaction of Color." 
ca. [961 

Silk screen on paper mounted on paper, 
2.0 \ [9" (50.8 x 48.3 cm.) 



194 Two Studies (Homage to the Square 
Series), n.d. 



Oil and pencil on paper, 12 x 5V4 
(50.5 x 13.4 cm.) 





238 



195 Two Studies (Homage to the Square 
Series), n.d. 

Oil and pencil on cardboard, 
ii x 4'Vi,," (2.8 x 12.5 cm.) 



196 Two Studies (Homage to the Square 
Series), n.d. 

Oil and pencil on cardboard, 1 1 Va x 
4 7 /s" (2.8.5 x 12.4 cm.) 




I ■• \ "■■^-*-y~^ r . 




[97 Study Homage to the Square Sena), n.d. 
Oil and pencil on paper, 12 x 12" 
(30.5 x 30.5 cm.) 



Study [Homage to the Square Series), n.d. 
Oil and pencil on paper, n'VihX ii'/V 
(30.4 x 30.7 cm.! 








199 Study (Homage to the Square Series), n.d. 
Oil and pencil on paper, 13 Vie, x 12W 
(33.2 x 30.7 cm.) 



loo Working Study (Homage to the Square 
Series), n.d. 

Oil on Masonite, 76 x 16" 
(40.6 x 40.6 cm.) 




Homage to the Square. 1950 

Oil on Masonite, io s /s x 2.0V2" 

(52.4 x 52..1 cm.) 

Collection Yale University Art Gallery, 

New Haven, Gift of Anni Albers and 

The Josef Albers Foundation 




2oi Homage to the Square: Festive. 1951 

Oil on Masonite, 24 x 24" (61 x 61 cm. 
Collection Yale University Art Gallery, 
New Haven, Gift of Anni Albers and 
The Josef Albers Foundation 




103 Homage to the Square: Black Setting. 1951 

Oil on Masonite, 3 1 4 -» x 31W (So. 7 x So. 7 cm.) 




204 Homage to the Square: Decided. 1951 
Oil on Masonite, 31% x 3i 3 /4" 
(80.7 x 80.7 cm.) 




zc>5 Homage to the Square. 1955 
Oil on Masonite, 14 x 14" 
61 x 6i cm.) 




zo6 Homage to the Square: Saturated. 1951 
Oil on Masonite, z^A x zy/s" (59.1 
59.4 cm.) 

Collection Yale University Art Gallery, 
New Haven, The Katherine Ordway 
Collection 




io7 Homage to the Square. 
Oil on Masonite, 24 x 
(61 x 61 cm.) 




io8 Homage to the Square: Greek Island. 
1967 

Oil on Masonite, 24 x 24" 
(61 x 61 cm.) 
Collection Ernst Beyeler, Basel 




209 Homage to the Square: A Re 
Rose. C969 

Oil on Masonite, 24 x 14" 
(61 x 61 cm.) 




zio Homage to the Sqiu 
1969 



RI 



Oil on Masonite, 16 x 16" 
(40.6 x 40.6 cm.) 
Collection Maximilian Schell 




Homage to the Square: Pompeian. C963 

Oil on Masonite, 18 x e8" 

(45.7 \ 45.7 cm.) 

(. olkxtion Maximilian Sdiell 




ziz Homage to the Square: Mitered. 
1962 

Oil on Masonite, 48 x 4S" 
(12.2 x 122 cm.) 

Collection Josef Albers Museum, 
Bottrop, W. Germany 



L A 


' 





Homage to the Square: Open Outwards 
Oil on Masonite, 4<S \ 48" 



Collection Staatliche Museen Preussischer 
kulturbesitz, Nationalgalerie, Berlin 




214 Homage to the Square: Apparition. 
1959 

Oil on Masonite, 47V2 x 47V'" 
(120.6 x 120.6 cm.) 

Collection Solomon R. Guggenheim 

Museum, New York 

61.1590 




a*, Homage to the Square. [960 

Oil on Masonite, 32 \ ii" 



Collection Mr 
Eastman 




2i 6 Homage to the Square: On an Early 
Sky. 1964 
Oil on Masonite, 4S x 48" 



Collection Australian National Gallery, 
Canberra 




Study for "Homage to the Square: 
Cooling." 1961 

Oil on panel, 24 x 24" (61 x 61 cm.) 
Collection Solomon R. Guggenheim 
Museum, New York, Gift, Anni Albers 
and The Josef Albers Foundation, 1977 
77-2-34° 




n8 Homage to the Square. 1965 
Oil on Masonite, 24 x 24" 
(61 x 61 cm.) 

Collection Musee National d'Art 
Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, 
Pans, Gift, Anni Albers and The Josef 
Albers Foundation, 1978 




k> Homage to the Square: Saturated II. 
[967 

Oil on Masonite, 48 x 48" 
! 111 x 111 cm.) 

Collection Maria and Conrad Janis, 
Beverly Hills 




220 Homage to the Square: Potent. 1968 
Oil on Masonite, 40 x 40" 
(101.6 x 101.6 cm.) 
Collection Maximilian Schell 




263 



Homage to the Square: Early ( )de. 

Oil on Masonite, iS x iS" 

(45.7 x 45-7 cm.) 

Collection Maria and Conrad Jams, 

Beverly Hills 




212 Homage to the Square: Arrival. 1963 
Oil on Masonite, 40 x 40" 
(101.6 x ior.6 cm.) 

Collection Maria and Conrad Janis, 
Beverly Hills 



265 



Homage to the Square: Light-Soft. 

1968 

Oil on Masonite, 40V2 x 40V2" 

(102.9 x 102.9 cm.) 

Collection Yale University Art Gallery, 

New Haven, Gift of Anni Albers and 

The Josef Albers Foundation 




Homage to the Square: Dense-Soft. 

1969 

Oil on Masonite, 40 x 40" 

(101.6 x 101.6 cm.) 

Collection Yale University Art Gallery, 

New Haven, Gift of Anni Albers and 

The Josef Albers Foundation 




267 



L5 Homage to the Square -.Tenacious, 1969 
Oil on Masonite, 24 x 14" 
(61 x 61 cm.) 
Collection Mr. and Mrs. Lee V. 



Homage to the Square: Warm Silence. 
1971 

Oil on Masonite, 24 x 14" 
(61 x 61 cm.) 

Collection Mr. and Mrs. Lee V. 
Eastman 




Homage to the Square: White Nimbus. 1964 

Oil on Masonite, 4N \ 4S" 

(12.2 x 111 cm.) 

Collection Hannelore B. Schulhof, New York 



tz8 Study for "Homage to the Square: 
Closing." [964 
Oil on board, 15' Vie x 1 s ' 16" 

(40.2 \ 40.2 cm.) 

Collection Solomon R. Guggenheim 

Museum, New York, Gift of the artist. 



Study for "Homage to the Square: 

Starting." 1969 

Oil on hoard, I5 13 /i6 x 15 13 /ie" 

(40.2 x 40.2 cm.) 

Collection Solomon R. Guggenheim 

Museum, New York, Gift of the artist, 

1969 

69.1916 



30 Homage to the Square: Impact. 1 
Oil on Masonite, 24 x 24" 
(61 x 61 cm.) 

Collection Josef Albers Museum, 
Bottrop, W. Germany 




L3i Homage to the Square: Lone Whites. 
1963 

Oil on Masonite, 24 x 24" 
(hi x 61 cm.) 



Homage to the Square: 
Reflected. 1963 

Oil on Masonite, 24 x 
(61 x 61 cm.) 



• 3 3 Homage to the Square: Yellow Climate. 



Oil on Masonite, 48 x 48" 
(122 x 122 cm.) 

Collection Louisiana Museum of 
Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark 



234 Study for "Homage to the Square." 19: 
Oil on Masonite, 24 x 24" 
(61 x 61 cm.) 

Collection Josef Albers Museum, 
Bottrop, W. Germany 




Homage to the Sqiuire. uj'i; 
Oil on Masonite, 24 x 2.4" 
(6i x 6i cm.) 

Collection Josef Albers Museum, 
Bottrop, W. Germany 




276 



136 Homage to the Square. 197: 
Oil on Masonite, 24 x 2.4" 
(61 x 61 cm.) 




2.37 Homage to the Square, k 
Oil on Masonite, 16 x 16' 
(40.(1 x 40.6 cm.) 




2.78 



2? 8 Homage to the Square: R HI- a 6. 
196S 

Oil on Masonite, 32 x ;i" 
(81.3 x 81.3 cm.) " 
Collection Maximilian Schell 




J9 Homage to the Square. [970 
Oil on Masonite, ;- \ 52" 
(81.3 \ 81.3 cm.) 
Collection Donald and Barbara 



140 Homage to the Square: Contained. 
1969 

Oil on Masonite, 16 x 16" 
(40.6 x 40.6 cm.) 




14 1 Homage to the Square. 1969 
Oil on Masonite, 16 x 16" 
(40.6 x 40.6 cm.) 



14 1 Homage to the Square: Less and More. 
1969 

Oil on Masonite, 
(61 x 61 cm.) 



'-4 x 24 




Homage to the Square: Reticence. 
Oil on Masonite, 3 1 Va x 3 1 3 /t" 
(80.7 x 80.7 cm.) 
Collection Josef Albers Museum, 
Bottrop, W. Germany 




244 Homage to the Square: Profunda. 1965 
Oil on Masonite, 31V4 x 31-V4" 
(80.7 x 80.7 cm.) 
Collection Josef Albers Museum, 
Bottrop, W. Germany 




2.4 s Homage to the Square: Despite Mist. 

Oil on Masonite, diptych, each panel 
40 x 40" (101.6 x ioi.fi cm.) 

C ollection Maximilian Schell 




2.84 



146 Homage to the Square. 1976 
Oil on Masonite, zy/g \ :T 
(60.- \ 60.- cm.) 



: "i4- Interaction of Color. 1963/88 

Electronic interactive videodisc < 

Presented by Pratt Institute and 
Jerry Whitclex 




Chronology 



EARLY YEARS 

1888 Born March 19 in Bottrop, a small industrial 

city- in the Ruhr district, Germany; the oldest 
son of Lorenz Albers and Magdalena 
Schumacher Albers. 

1902.-05 Attends Praparanden-Schule, Langenhorst. 

1905-08 Attends Lehrerseminar (Teacher's College), 
Biiren; receives teacher's certificate. 

1908 Visits museums in Munich and Folkwang 

Museum, Hagen, where he sees first paintings 
by Cezanne and Matisse. 

1908-13 Teaches public school, primary grades, for 
Westfalian regional teaching system, in small 
towns and then in Bottrop. 

1913-15 Attends Konigliche Kunstschule, Berlin, where 
he studies teaching of art under Philipp Franck. 
Exempted from military service because of 
teaching affiliation. Visits state museums and 
galleries in Berlin. Executes first figurative oils, 
mostly boldly colored still lifes and drawings 



reminiscent of Diirer (see cat. nos. 
Receives certificate as art teacher. 



-19 Attends Kunstgewerbeschule, Essen, while still 
teaching in public schools in Bottrop. Studies 
with Jan Thorn-Prikker, a stained-glass artisan 
and drawing instructor. Begins independent 
work in stained glass. Executes first lithographs 
and blockprints, including Workers' Houses 
and Rabbits series (see cat. nos. 11-13; 7, 8); 
these are exhibited in 1918 at Galerie Goltz, 
Munich. Makes more figurative drawings, 
including portraits and self-portraits (see cat. 
nos. 15-18, 30); other subjects include farm 
animals and many aspects of local scenery (see 
cat. nos. 19-26). Albers's style, while reflecting 
his awareness of contemporary European 
artistic movements, begins to emerge, with an 
emphasis on precise articulation and visual 
spareness (see cat. nos. 6, 9, 10, 14, 32, 33). 

- 1 8 Executes Rosa mystica ora pro nobis, stained- 
glass window commissioned for St. Michael's 
Church, Bottrop (destroyed). 

20 At Konigliche Bayerische Akademie der Bilden- 
den Kunst, Munich, attends" Franz von Stuck's 
drawing class and Max Doerner's course in 



painting technique. Makes many figurative 
drawings there, as well as series of brush and 
ink drawings of rural Bavarian town of Mitten- 
wald (see cat. nos. 36-39; 34, 35). 



Attends Bauhaus in Weimar, where he takes 
preliminary course and begins independent 
study in glass assemblage. From this point on 
all of his art, with the exception of his photo- 
graphs and designs for functional objects, will 
be abstract. 

Continues making glass assemblages, in which 
he uses detritus from dump in Weimar (see cat. 
nos. 40-43). 

Promoted to level of journeyman. Reorganizes 
glass workshop. 

Designs and executes stained-glass windows for 
houses in Berlin designed by Walter Gropius, 
founding director of the Bauhaus, and for 
reception room of Gropius's office in Weimar. 
These are complex abstract compositions 
juxtaposing multiple pieces of clear and colored 
single-pane glass. Also makes wooden furniture 
for Gropius's office. 

Invited by Gropius to conduct preliminary 
course in material and design. Designs fruit 
bowl of glass, metal and wood (cat. no. 48). 
Executes stained-glass window for Grassi 
Museum, Leipzig (destroyed 1944) (cat. no. 

First essay, "Historisch oder jetzig?," is pub- 
lished in special Bauhaus issue of Hamburg 




Albers (third from right) and friends, Berlii 



periodica] Junge Menschen. Executes stained- 
glass windows for Ullstein Publishing C o., 
Berlin-Tempelhof. These windows, installed in 
[92.6, were later destroyed, probably at the time 
ot the occupation of the building by the Red 
Army in 1945. Here, as in the Grassi Museum 
windows, the design is a more simplified 
geometric abstraction than in the earlier work. 
Moves with Bauhaus to Dessau. Appointed 
Bauhaus master. Marries Annelise Fleisch- 
mann, a weaving student at the Bauhaus. 
Travels to Italy. Develops sandblasted flashed- 
glass paintings with increasingly refined 
gei (metric compositions (see cat. nos. 5 5 , 5 8-60, 
62.-66, 68-74). He will continue making these- 
m what becomes known as his "thermometer" 
style-for the next four years. 
Designs tea glasses of glass, metal, wood, plastic 
and porcelain (see cat. no. 49A.R) and begins 
working in typography (see cat. no. 50). 
Designs furniture, primarily in wood and glass, 
for Berlin apartment of Drs. Fritz and Anno 
Moellenhoff (see cat. nos. 46, 4-, 53, 54). 

;i Takes numerous black and white photographs, 
including portraits of fellow Bauhauslers, many 
of which he mounts as photo-collages (see cat. 
nos. 77-91). 

Gropius leaves Bauhaus; is replaced by Hannes 
Meyer. Albers takes charge of preliminary 
course and lectures at International Congress 





Albers in his Bauhaus studio, Dessau, 1928 
Photo bv Umbo 




Albers teaching at the Bauhaus, Dessau, 1918 
Photo by Umbo 



Albers with Herbert and Mutzi Bayer, 
Ascona, 192.$ 



for Art Education, Prague. Designs upholstered 
wood chair (cat. no. 75). 

[928-30 Following Breuer's departure in 1928, Albers 
assumes directorship of furniture workshop, 
position Breuer had held since 1925. Heads 
wallpaper design program. 

[929 Shows twenty glass-paintings in exhibition of 

Bauhaus masters in Zurich and Basel; others 
featured include Vasily Kandinsky and Paul 
Klee. Designs chair for mass production (cat. 
no. 76). 

[929-32 Continues to make sandblasted glass construc- 
tions, now using illusionistie, volumetric forms, 
most of which combine straight lines and curves 
(see cat. nos. 96, 98, 99). 
930 Ludwig Mies van der Rohe replaces Meyer as 

director of Bauhaus; Albers becomes assistant 
director. 

:93 2 Moves with Bauhaus to Berlin. Has first solo 

show at Bauhaus, a comprehensive exhibition 
of glass works from 1920 to 1932. In addition 
to basic design, teaches freehand drawing and 
lettering. Begins Treble Clef series of gouaches 
and glass constructions, his first major use of 
a single form repeated with very slight compo- 
sitional variations in many different color 
schemes (see cat. nos. 100-105). 

933 With other remaining faculty members, closes 

Bauhaus. Executes series of woodcut and 
linoleum-cut prints in Berlin (see cat. nos. 106- 



BLACK MOUNTAIN 

1933 On recommendation of Philip Johnson at The 
Museum of Modern Art, New York, Josef and 
Anni Albers invited to teach at newly founded 
Black Mountain College, North Carolina, 
where they arrive November 28. Albers is based 
here for the next sixteen years. 

1934 Gives lecture series at Lyceum Havana, Cuba. 
Executes woodcuts and linoleum cuts in 
Asheville, North Carolina, city nearest to Black 
Mountain (see cat. nos. 109-111). 

1935 Makes first of fourteen visits to Mexico and 
Latin America. Paints first free-form abstrac- 
tions (see cat. nos. 112, 113, 116). 

1936 Executes series of spare geometric drawings (see 
cat. nos. 119-122). 




Josef and Anni Albers aboard the S.S. Europa 
upon their arrival in the United States, New- 
York, November 25, 1933 
Associated Press photo 



[936-40 At invitation of Gropius, holds seminars and 
lectures at Graduate School of Design, Harvard 
University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Paints 
various small series of geometric abstractions 
of highly diverse imagery in gouache and oil 
(see cat. nos. 115, 117, 118, 124-131, 133-136, 
138-146, 154, 155). 

1936-41 Exhibits glass paintings from Bauhaus period, 
new oil paintings and other works in over 
twenty solo shows in American galleries. 

[937 Included in first American Abstract Artists 

exhibition at Squibb Galleries, New York, April 
3-17. 

[939 Becomes a United States citizen. 

[ 940-42 Makes autumn-leaf collages and small drypoint 
etchings of meandering linear compositions (see 
cat. nos. 147-151; 156-158). 

[941 Takes sabbatical year, painting in New Mexico 

and teaching basic design and color at Harvard. 

[941-42 Executes Graphic Tectonic series of drawings 
and zinc-plate lithographs featuring geometric 



i94« 
[948- 

1949 



imagery that emphasizes the use of drafting 
tools m the cream e process sec eat. nos. lfto, 
161). 

Plays increasingly active role in administration 
at Black Mountain, writing on educational 
theory and lecturing on behalf of the school. 
Begins Biconjugate and Kinetic (see cat. nos. 
166, 170) series of two-figure geometric abstrac- 
tions. 

Makes series of prints in Asheville, many of 
which superimpose geometric figures on 
grounds with wood grain and cork-relief 
patterns (see cat. nos. 167-169). 
Spends sabbatical year painting in Mexico. 
Begins Variant series, largest group of paintings 
to date, in which similar geometric composi- 
tions are executed in various color schemes (see 
cat. nos. 177-191). These paintings demonstrate 
many of the points about color effects and 
mutability with which Albers is becoming 
increasingly preoccupied. 
Serves as rector of Black Mountain. Makes 
Multiples woodcuts in Asheville. 
Elected member, Advisory Council of the Arts, 
Yale University, New Haven. 
Leaves Black Mountain. Travels to Mexico. 
Appointed visiting professor, Cincinnati Art 




YALE 

1950 



Academy and Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New- 
York, where he teaches color and leads faculty 
workshop. Begins Structural Constellations, 
also called Transformations of a Scheme, a 
series of linear, geometric drawings whose 
deliberately ambiguous imagery offers multiple 
readings (see cat. nos. 171-176). Over the next 
twenty-five years Albers will execute the Cow- 
stellations as drawings, white line engravings 
on black Vinylite, prints made from engraved 
brass, inkless intaglio prints, printed embos- 
sings and large wall-reliefs made in various 
materials including stainless-steel tubes and 
incised marble with gold leaf. 



Albers teaching color course at Black Mountain College, 

August 1948 

Photo by Rudolph Burckhardt 



Begins Homage to the Square series (see cat. 
nos. 201-246), in which Albers uses four closely- 
related formats of asymmetrical nested squares 
to present different color climates and color 
activity. Over the next twenty-five vears he will 
render these as oil paintings on Masonite, 
lithographs, screenprints, Aubusson and other 
tapestries and large interior walls made in 
various media. Serves as visiting critic, Yale 
University School of Art, and visiting professor. 
Graduate School of Design, Harvard. Ap- 
pointed chairman of Department of Design at 
Yale and establishes residence in New Haven. 
Executes America, rear wall of brick fireplace, 
for Swaine Room, Harkness Commons, Har- 
vard University Graduate Center. 
Appointed Fellow of Saybrook College, Yale 
University. 
•54 Lectures in Department of Architecture, Univer- 
sidad Catolica, Santiago, and at Escuela Na- 
cional de Ingenieros del Peru, Lima. Takes 
position as visiting professor at Hochschule fur 
Gestaltung, Ulm, West Germany. 
Returns as visting professor, Hochschule fur 
Gestaltung, Ulm. Executes White Cross Win- 
dow, photosensitive glass window, for Abbot's 
Chapel, St. John's Abbey, Collegeville, Min- 
nesota. 

Has first retrospective exhibition at Yale 
University Art Gallery. Named Professor of Art 
Emeritus, Yale. 

Receives Officer's Cross, Order of Merit, First 
Class, of the German Federal Republic, and 
made Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, LIniversity 
of Hartford. 




Albers (detail), 1948 
© Arnold Newman 



Teaches at Syracuse University, New York. 
Appointed visiting professor, Carnegie Institute, 
Pittsburgh. 

Retires as chairman of Department of Design 
at Yale; remains as visiting professor until i960. 
Lectures at University of Minnesota, Kansas 
City Art Institute, Art Institute of Chicago and 
Department of Architecture, Princeton Univer- 
sity. Awarded Conrad von Soest Prize for 
painting by Landesverband Westfalen-Lippe, 
West Germany. 



LATE YEARS 
1959 



i960 



Awarded Ford Foundation Fellowship. Exe- 
cutes Two Structural Constellations, gold-leaf 
engraving in marble, for Corning Glass Building 
lobby. New York, and Manuscript Wall, re- 
cessed mortar composition, for Manuscript 
Society Building, New Haven. 
Attends Cultural Congress, Munich. 



1 96 1 Executes Two Portals, glass and bronze mural, 
for Time and Life Building lobby, New York, 
and St. Patrick's Altar Wall, brick wall, for St. 
Patrick's Church, Oklahoma City. 

1962 Teaches at University of Oregon, Eugene. 
Awarded Graham Foundation Fellowship. 
Made Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, Yale 
University, and receives Dean's Citation, 
Philadelphia Museum College of Art. 

1963 Receives fellowship from Tamarind Lithog- 
raphy Workshop, Los Angeles. Interaction of 
Color published. Executes Manhattan, formica 
mural, for Pan Am Building lobby, New York, 
and Repeat and Reverse, steel sculpture, for Art 
and Architecture Building entrance, Yale. 

1964 Lectures at Smith College, Northampton, 
Massachusetts, and University of Miami. 
Awarded second fellowship by Tamarind 
Lithography Workshop. Made Honorary Doc- 
tor of Fine Arts, California College of Arts and 
Crafts, Oakland, and receives medal for "Ex- 
traordinary work in the field of the graphic 
arts," American Institute of Graphic Arts, New 
York. 

1965 Delivers lecture series at Trinity College, 
Hartford, published as Search Versus Re- 
Search. Featured in The Responsive Eye, an 
important traveling exhibition organized by 
William C. Seitz for The Museum of Modern 
Art, New York, as a result of which he comes 
to be regarded as the father of Op Art. 

1966 Appointed visiting professor, University of 
South Florida, Tampa. Receives honorary 
LL.D., University of Bridgeport, Connecticut. 

1967 Receives Carnegie Institute Award for painting, 
Pittsburgh International Exhibition. Executes 
RIT Loggia Wall, brick wall, for Science 
Building, and Growth, painted murals, for 
Administration Building lobby, Rochester 
Institute of Technology, New York. Made 
Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, University of 
North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Honorary- 
Doctor of Philosophy, Ruhr-Umversitat, 
Bochum, West Germany. 

1968 Wins Grand Prize, La III Bienal Americana de 
Grabado, Santiago, and Grand Prize for paint- 
ing, State of Nordrhein-Westfalen, West Ger- 
many. Receives Commander's Cross, Order of 
Merit of the German Federal Republic. Elected 
member. National Institute of Arts and Letters, 
New York. 



Made Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, University 
of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, Minneapolis 
School of Art and Kenyon College, Gambier, 
Ohio. 

Moves from New Haven to Orange, Connect- 
icut. Elected Benjamin Franklin Fellow, Royal 
Society of the Arts, London. Made honorary 
citizen of Bottrop. 

Gives thirteen paintings and fifty-eight prints 
to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New 
York, following his solo exhibition there, the 
first retrospective devoted by the museum to a 
major living artist. Wins First Medal for graphic- 
arts, Skowhegan School of Painting and 
Sculpture, Maine. Made Honorary Doctor of 
Fine Arts, Washington University, St. Louis. 
Designs Two Supraportas, steel sculpture, for 
Westfalisches Landesmuseum fur Kunst und 
Kulturgeschichre entrance, Miinster; Gemini, 
stainless-steel relief mural, for Grand Avenue 
National Bank lobby. Crown Center, Kansas 
City, Missouri; and Reclining Figure, mosaic- 
tile mural, for Celanese Building lobby, New- 
York. Made Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, 
Maryland Institute and College of Art, Balti- 
more. Awarded Gold Medal, First Graphic- 
Biennial, Norway. 

Josef Albers, Formulation: Articulation pub- 
lished. Designs Stanford Wall, two-sided, free- 
standing brick, granite and steel relief-wall, for 
Lomita Mall, Stanford University (installed 
posthumously in 1980). Receives Distinguished 
Teaching of Art Award, College Art Association, 
and Honorary LL.D., York University, 
Downsview, Ontario. Elected member, Ameri- 
can Academy of Arts and Letters, Boston. 
Elected Extraordinary Member, Akademie der 
Kiinste, Berlin. 
Made Honorarv Doctor of Fine Arts, Pratt 



Institute, Brooklyn, New York, and awarded 
Medal of Fine Arts, American Institute of 
Architects, New York Chapter. 
Designs Wrestling, aluminum relief-mural, for 
Mutual Life Centre, Sydney, Australia. Dies 
March 2.5 in New Haven; is buried in Orange. 



i9 _ 'i Made Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, Phi 

phia College of Art. 



igur 



mgs 



Bauh. 



[983 



period photographs rediscovered. 
Groups of Albers's paintings given by Amu 
Albers and The Josef Albers Foundation to 
Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate Gallery, 
London; San Francisco Museum of Modern 
Art; Musee National d'Art Moderne, Centre 
Georges Pompidou, Paris; Detroit Institute of 
Arts; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Berlin 
Nationalgalerie; Milwaukee Art Center; Museo 
de Arte Contemporaneo, Caracas; Rijksmu- 
seuni kroller-Muller, Otterlo, The Netherlands; 
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art; Humlebaek, 
Denmark; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; 
and Dallas Museum of Art. 

Permanent exhibition space devoted to Albers's 
work opens at Yale University Art Gallery, 
featuring gift from Anm Albers and The Josef 
Albers Foundation of sixty-four paintings and 
forty-nine prints. 

Commemorative postage-stamp issued bearing 
Honuige t<> the Square design and U.S. Depart- 
ment of Education motto "Learning Never 
Ends." 

Josef Albers Museum opens in Bottrop, housing 
gift from Anm Albers and The Josef Albers 
Foundation of ninety-one paintings and 1^4 
prints. 



Selected Bibliography 



GENERAL 

Herbert Bayer, Walter Gropius and Ise Gropius, eds., 

Baukaus 1919-1928, New York, The Museum of Modern 

Art, 1958. PP- 4i> 42- 47, 55. 114-118, 127, 135, 149, 194, 

2I 5 

Ernest Harms, "Short-term Styles in Modern Art," Studio, 

vol. CLiv; 1957, pp. 131-135, 159 

Marcel Brion, "Qu'est-ce que Tart abstrait?," Jardin des 
Arts, no. 30, 1958, pp. 348-358 

Lee Nordness, ed., ART USA NOW, Lucerne, C. J. Bucher, 
Ltd., 1962, vol. I, pp. 38-41 

George Rickey, Constructivism: Origins and Evolution, 
New York, George Braziller, 1967, pp. x, 7, 43, 45-47, 
49, 51, 65, 81, 85-86, 90, 112, 156, 142-145, J51, 179-180, 
209, 224 

John Coplans, Serial Imagery, exh. cat., The New York 
Graphic Society and The Pasadena Art Museum, 1968, 
pp. 46-53 

Jean Clay, Visages de I'art moderne, Lausanne and Paris, 
Editions Rencontre, 1969, pp. 63-78 

Eberhard Roters, Painters of the Bauhaus, Anna Rose 
Cooper, trans., New York and Washington, Frederick A. 
Praeger, 1969, pp. 183-195 

Hans M. Wingler, The Bauhaus, Wolfgang Jabs and Basil 
Gilbert, trans., Joseph Stein, ed., Cambridge, Mas- 
sachusetts, and London, The MIT Press, 1969, passim 

Anni Albers, Pre-Columbian Mexican Miniatures: The 
Josef and Anni Albers Collection, New York and 
Washington, Praeger Publishers, 1970 

Martin Duberman, Black Mountain College: An Explora- 
tion in Community, New York, E.P. Dutton, Co., Inc., 
1972, pp. 11, 15-16, 85, 90, 103, 128, 171, 231, 300-303, 
313-314, 339, 370, 416-417, 465 

Irving Leonard Finkelstein, The Life and Art of Josef 
Albers (Ph.D. dissertation, New York University, 1968), 
microfilm, Ann Arbor, Michigan, University Microfilms 
International, 1979 

E. H. Gombrich, The Sense of Order, Oxford, Phaidon 
Press, Ltd., 1979, pp. 83, 124, 14211 

Sammlungs-Katalog: Bauhaus-Archiv Museum, introduc- 
tion by Hans M. Wingler, Berlin, Bauhaus-Archiv, 1981, 
pp. 13, 16, 18-20, 23, 49-58, 89, 91, 93, 104, in, 115, 
121-123, 152, 162, 210, 218-220, 225, 226, 231, 232, 287, 
290, 296 



Rudolf Arnheim, The Power of the Center, Berkeley, Los 
Angeles and London, University of California Press, 1982, 
p. 145 

Mary Emma Harris, The Arts at Black Mountain College, 
Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, The MIT Press, 
1987, pp. x, xi, 4, 8-13, 29, 38, 53, 66, 72, 79-83, 85, 
96, 10S, 109, 114, 117, 120, 126-151, 140-141, 163-165, 
183, 188 

BY THE ARTIST 

"Historisch oder jetzig?," Junge Menschen (Hamburg), 
no. 8, November 1924, p. 171. Special Bauhaus issue 
"Zur Okonomie der Schnftform," Offset-Buch und 
Werbekunst (Leipzig), no. 7, 1926. Revised edition, 
"Kombinationsschrift 3," Bauhaus Zeitschnft fur Gestal- 
tung (Dessau), no. 1, January 1931, pp. 3-4 

"Gestaltungsunterricht," Bottcherstrasse, vol. 1, June 

1928, pp. 26-27. Expanded edition, "Werklicher Formun- 

terricht, Bauhaus: Zeitschnft fitr Gestaltung (Dessau), no. 

2/3, 1928, pp. 3-7 

"Produktive Erziehung zur Werkform," Deutsche 

Goldschmiede Zeitung (Leipzig), no. 25, 1929, pp. 259- 

262. Transcript of a lecture given by Albers to the Society 

of Goldsmiths, Leipzig, 1929 

"Zu meinen Glas-wandbildern," A bis Z: Organ der 

Gruppe progressive!- Ki'tnstler (Cologne), no. 3, February 

1953, P- "7 

"Concerning Art Instruction," Black Mountain College 

Bulletin, no. 2, June 1934, pp. 2-7 

"Art as Experience," Progressive Education, vol. 12, 

October 1935, pp. 591-393 

"A Note on the Arts in Education," The American 

Magazine of Art, vol. 29, April 1936, p. 255 

"The Educational Value of Manual Work and Handicraft 

in Relation to Architecture," in Paul Zucker, ed., New 

Architecture and City Planning, New York, Philosophical 

Library, 1944, pp. 688-694 

"Present and/or Past," Design (Columbus, Ohio), vol. 47, 

April 1946, pp. 16-17, 2 7 

"Black Mountain College," Junior Bazaar, May 1946, pp. 

130-135 

"Abstract-Presentational," in American Abstract Artists, 

New York, Ram Press, 1946, pp. 65-64 

"Letter to the Editor," Art News, May 1948, p. 6 

"The Origin of Art," Realites Nouvelles, no. 6, August 

1951, PP- 64-69 

"Modular Brick Wall Partition," in Eleanor Bitterman, Art 



111 Modern Architecture, New York, Rhemhold Publishing 
Company, i<)\:, pp. 148-149. Statement on the 
Harvard Graduate Center wall 

"Josef Albers," Spirale (Bern and Zurich), no. 5, Fall [955, 
pp. 1-12 

"Josef Albers," Nueva Vision (Buenos Aires), no. 8, 1955, 
pp. 5-9 

"The Teaching of Art," The Carteret Digest, vol. 2, April 
1957, pp. 6-8 

"Art and General Education," Yale Alumni Magazine, 
April 145 S, pp. 6-7, 16 

"Dimensions of Design," Dimensions of Design, New- 
York, American Craftsmen's Council, 1958, pp. 1 3 - 1 <S 

Poems and Drawings, New Haven, The Readymade Press, 

[958. Second edition, New York, George Wittenborn, Inc., 

1961 

"On Art and Expression," "On Articulation," "On 

Enunciation," "Seeing Art," Yale Literary Magazine, vol. 

CXXIX, May i960, pp. 49-54 

"When 1 Paint and Construct...," Daedalus, vol. 89, 

Winter i960, p. 105. Special issue, "The Visual Arts 

Today" 

"Structural Sculpture," Robert Eugman: Recent Sculpture, 

exh. cat.. New York, Stable Gallery, i960, unpaginated 

"In Behalf of Structured Sculpture, Art 111 America, vol. 

49, March 1961, p. 75 

with Francois Bucher, Despite Straight Lines, New Haven 
and London, Yale University Press, 1961, pp. 10-11. 
German edition. Trot; der Geraden, Bern, Benteli-Verlag, 
1961. Revised edition, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and 
London, The MIT Press, [977 

"The Interaction of Color," Art News, vol. 61, March 
1963, pp. 33-35, 56-59 

Interaction of Color, New Haven, Yale University Press, 
[963; pocket edition, 19-1; revised pocket edition, 1 9 ~ 5 . 
(The 1963 publication was a boxed set with 80 color folios 
and a commentary. Subsequent editions, except for the 
complete German and Finnish volumes, were published 
either in paperback or pocket size with selected plates and 
an abridged text.) German paperback, Grundlegung einer 
Didaktik des Sebens, Cologne, Verlag M. DuMont 
Schauberg, 1970; complete German edition, Starnberg, 
Josef Keller Verlag, 1972. Japanese paperback, Tokyo, 
David Sha Ltd., i9~2. French paperback, LTnteraction des 
couleurs, Paris, Librairie Hachette, 1974. Spanish paper- 
back, La interaction del color, Madrid, Alianza Forma, 
19-5. Complete Finnish edition, Vdrien vuorovaikutus, 
Helsinki, Vapaa Taidekoulu, 1:978; Finnish paperback. 



19-9. Swedish pocket edition, Farglara om fargers 
inverkan pa varandra, Stockholm, Forum, 1982. Italian 
paperback, Parma, Pratiche Editrice, forthcoming in 1988 
"Fugue," The Structunst (Saskatoon, Canada), no. 4, 
November 1964, p. 22 

"Op Art and/or Perceptual Effects," Yale Scientific 
Magazine, November 1965, pp. 1-6 

with Henry Hopkins and Kenneth E. Tyler, Josef Albers: 

White Line Squares, exh. cat., Los Angeles County 

Museum of Art and Gemini G.E.L., 1966 

"My Courses at the Hochschule fur Gestaltung at Ulm" 

(1954), Form (Cambridge, England), no. 4, April 196-, 

pp. S-10 

"Selected Writings," Origin (Kyoto), no. 8, January 1968, 

pp. 11-32 

Search \ersus Re-Search: Three Lectures by Josef Albers 
at Trinity College, April 1965, Hartford, Trinity College 
Press, 1969 

"Thirteen Years at the Bauhaus," in Eckhard Neumann, 
Bauhaus and Bauhaus People. New York, Van Rostand 
and Reinhold, 19-0, pp. [69-172. German edition. [97] 
Josef Albers, Formulation: Articulation, New York, Harry 
N. Abrams, Inc., and New Haven, Ives-Sillman, Inc., 19-2 



ON THE ARTIST 

"Das Drei-S-Werk auf der Leipziger Schaufenstersch.au," 

Musik-Instrumenten Zeitung (Leipzig), November 20, 
C9z8, p. 134S 

"Jubilaumsvortrage des Bauhauses: Vortrag Josef Albers, 
'Werklehre des Bauhauses,' " Volksblatt Dessau, January 
29, 1930 

Arthur Korn, Glas im Ban und als Gebrauchsgegenstand, 
Berlin-Charlottenburg, Ernst Pollak Verlag, 1930 
L. Sandusky, "The Bauhaus Tradition and the New 
Typography," PM, vol. 4, June/July 1938, pp. 1-34. (For 
Albers's response see "Letter to the Editor," PAL vol. 4, 
August/September 1938, p. 49.) 

Maude Riley, "The Digest Interviews Josef Albers," Art 
Digest, vol. 19, January is, 1945, pp. 15, 30 
Mickey Fechheimer, "Albers Outlines Plans for Yale 
Department of Design," The Summer Crimson (Cam- 
bridge, Massachusetts), July 2-, 1950, p. 4 
Elaine de Kooning, "Albers Paints a Picture," Art News, 
vol. 49, November 1950, pp. 40-43, 57-58 
Erhard Gopel, "Der Bauhaus-Meister Josef Albers," 
Siiddeutsche Zeitung Munich), no. 12, January 1454 



"Optical Tricks Train Yale Artists," Life Magazine, vol. 

40, March 26, 1956, pp. 71-76 

Jean Chariot, "Nature and the Art of Josef Albers," 

College Art Journal (New York), vol. 15, Spring 1956, pp. 

190-196 

Eugen Gomringer, "Josef Albers, zum 70. Geburtstag," 
Neite Ziircber-Zeitung, March 19, 1958 

Will Grohmann, "Zum 70. Geburtstag von Josef Albers," 
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, March 19, 1958 
Max Bill, "Josef Albers," Werk, vol. 45, April 1958, pp. 
135-138 

Neil Welliver, "The Albers Critique" [letter to the editor], 
Arts, May 1958, p. 7 

Eugen Gomringer, "Abstrakte Kompositionen auf opakem 
Glas: Die Glasbilder von Josef Albers," Glaswelt 
(Stuttgart), vol. 17, November 1958, pp. 14-15 

Richard B. Lohse, "Josef Albers 'City' T928," Ziircher 
Kunstgesellschaft Jahresbericht, i960, pp. 53-56 

Katharine Kuh, "Josef Albers," The Artist's Voice: Talks 
with Seventeen Artists, New York, Harper and Row, 1962, 
pp. 11-21 

M. Shutaro, I. Koji and K. Akio, "The World of Josef 
Albers," Graphic Design (Tokyo), no. 11, April 1963, pp. 
7-17 (in Japanese with English summary) 

Dore Ashton, "Albers and the Indispensable Precision," 
Studio, June 1963, p. 253 

Hannes Beckmann, "Josef Albers' 'Interaction of Color,' " 
Inter-Society Color Council Newsletter, no. 173, Sep- 
tember-December 1963, pp. 17-19 

Donald Judd, " 'Interaction of Color' " [review], Arts 
Magazine, November 1963, pp. 67, 73-75 

Daniel and Eugenia Robbins, "Josef Albers: Art Is Looking 

at Us," Studio International, vol. 167, no. 850, 1964, pp. 

54-57 

Sidney Tillim, "Optical Art, Pending or Ending?" Arts 

Magazine, January 1965, pp. 16-23 

John Canaday, "Art That Pulses, Quivers and Fascinates," 
The New York Times Magazine, February 21, 1965, pp. 
12-13 

Margit Staber, "Farbe und Linie — Kunst und Erziehung: 
Zum Werk von Josef Albers," Neue Grafik, no. 17/18, 
February 1965, pp. 54-69, 140-142 (in English, French and 
German) 

Karl Gerstner, "Josef Albers' 'Interaction of Color,' " 
Forum, Internationale Revue (Opladen), vol. 29, March 
1965 



George Rickey, "Scandale de succes," Art International, 
vol. 9, May 1965, pp. 16-23 

Irving Finkelstein, "Albers' Graphic Tectonics, from a 
Doctoral Dissertation on 'The Life and Art of Josef 
Albers,' " Form (Cambridge, England), no. 4, April 1967 

Hans Hildebrandt, "Josef Albers," Das Kunstwerk, 
August-September 1967 

Paul Overy, " 'Calm Down, What Happens, Happens 
Mainly Without You'— Josef Albers," Art and Artists 
(London), October 1967, pp. 32-35 

Jean Clay, "Albers: Josef's Coats of Many Colours," 
Realites, March 1968, pp. 64-69. English edition, August 
1968 

Jean Clay, "Albers, Trois Etapes d'une logique," RHOBO 

(Paris), Spring 1968, pp. 10-14 

Eugen Gomringer, Josef Albers, Joyce Wittenborn, trans., 

New York, George Wittenborn, Inc., 1968. German 

edition, Starnberg, Josef Keller Verlag, 1971, with 

additional texts by Clara Diament de Sujo, Will 

Grohmann, Norbert Lynton, Michel Seuphot and the 

artist 

Wieland Schmied, Josef Albers zu seinem 80. Geburtstag: 

Lithografien, Seriegrafien, exh. cat., Hannover, 

Kestnergesellschaft, 1968 

Margit Staber, ed., Josef Albers: Graphic Tectonic, 

Cologne, Galerie der Spiegel, 1968, with statements by 

Max Bill, Buckminster Fuller, Karl Gerstner, Max Imdahl, 

Dietrich Mahlow, Margit Staber and the artist 

Sam Hunter, "Josef Albers: Prophet and Presiding Genius 

of American Op Art," Vogue, October 15, 1970, pp. 70-73, 

126-127 

John H. Holloway and John A. Weil, "A Conversation with 

Josef Albers," Leonardo (Oxford), vol. 3, October 1970, 

pp. 459-464 

Werner Spies, Albers, New York, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 

Meridian Modern Artists, 1970 

David Shapiro, "Homage to Albers," Art News, 

November 1971, pp. 30-34 

Jiirgen Wissmann, Josef Albers, Recklinghausen, Bongers 

Verlag, 3971 

Jiirgen Wissmann, Josef Albers: Murals in New York, 

Stuttgart, Phillip Reclam Verlag, 1971 

Margit Rowell, "On Albers' Color," Artforum, vol. 10, 

January 1972, pp. 26-37 

Jo Miller, Josef Albers: Prints 1915-19JO, New York, The 

Brooklyn Museum, American Graphic Artists of the 

Twentieth Century, no. 8, 1973 



Jurgen Wissmann, Josef A Ibcrs im Westfdlischen Landes- 
museum Miinster, Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe, 
1977 

Nicholas Fox Weber, The Drawings of Josef Alters, New 
Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1984 
Neal D. Benezra, The Murals and Sculpture of Josef Albers, 
New York and London, Garland Publishing, Inc., Out- 
standing Dissertations in the Fine Arts, 1985 



Films and Videos 

Distinguished Living Artists: Josef Albers, interview 

conducted by Brian O'Doherty, Museum of Fine Arts, 

Boston, for the television series Invitation to Art, produced 

by WGBH-TV, Boston, i960 

To Open Eyes, film produced and directed by Carl 

Howard, SUNY-Albany, and distributed by The Josef 

Albers Foundation, Inc., 1969 

Josef Albers: Homage to the Square, film produced by 

University-at-Large Programs, Inc., Chelsea House 



Publishers, New York, and directed by Paul Falkenberg 
and Hans Namuth, 1969 

Man at the Center, film produced by Terry Filgate and the 
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and directed by 
Lister Sinclair, 1972 

Interaction of Color, electronic interactive videodisc 
presented by Pratt Institute and Jerry Whiteley, New York, 
1988. Executive coproducers, Jerry Whiteley and Andrew 
Phelan; art direction, Sonya Haferkorn; color palette, Jodi 
Slater; Pratt faculty leader, Isaac Kerlow; voice narration, 
Mark Strand, Kelly Feeney and Natalie Charkow; original 
music, Robert Fair; computer graphic facilities, New York 
Institute of Technology and Pratt Institute; computer 
programmers, John Pane and Jim Ryan; project manager, 
Apple Computer, Inc., Barbara Bowen; technical manager, 
Apple Computer, Inc., Tony Masterson. Additional 
support and assistance provided by The Josef Albers 
Foundation, Apple Computer, Inc., Center for Art and 
Technology at Carnegie Mellon University, Yale University, 
Yale University Press, New York Institute of Technology 
and Phillips and DuPont Optical Co. 



Selected Exhibitions and Reviews 



Rc\l 



], Magazine of Art, vol. 30, November 1937, p. 



This list consists of solo exhibitions or shows with one or 
two other artists. Group exhibitions are not included. Most 
of the shows listed featured paintings or paintings and 
prints; the hundreds of shows of Interaction of Color, 
Formulation: Articulation and other print groups have not 
been included. 



Galerie Goltz, Munich [lithographs and woodcuts], 1918 

Bauhaus, Berlin, Josef Albers, Glasbilder, May 1-12, 1932. 

Brochure with statements by the artist 

Kunstverein Leipzig [glass paintings] (with Maria 

Salvona), January 1933 

Albers's studio, Berlin [glass paintings], July 1933 

Brattislava and Bruhn [review], "Berliner Ausstel- 
lungen," Forum, Zeitscbrift fur Kunst-Bau-und Ein- 
richtung, vol. 3, 1933. P- 355 
Galleria del Milione, Milan, Silographie recenti di Josef 
Albers e di Luigi Veronesi, December 23, 1934-January 
10, 1935. Catalogue with texts by Hans Hildebrandt, 
Vasily Kandinsky, Alberto Sartoris and Xanti Schawinsky 
Lyceum Club, Havana, December 29, 1934-January 4, 
1935 
Jose M. Valdes-Rodriguez, "Josef Albers y la nueva 
arquitectura," Ahora (Havana), January 2, 1935, pp. 
1-2 

Asheville Art Guild, North Carolina, Works by Josef 
Albers, October-November 1935 

New Art Circle, J.B. Neumann, New York, Work by Josef 
Albers, March 9-30, 1936 

Carlyle Burrows, "Decorations," New York Herald 
Tribune, March 15, 1936 

Edward Alden Jewell, "The Realm of Art: Academism 
of the Left," The New York Times, March 15, 1936 
James W. Lane, Parnassus, April 1936, p. 28 
Periodica El Nacional, Mexico City, August 15-25, 1936 
Black Mountain College, North Carolina, Exhibition of 
Glass and Oils by Josef Albers, October 1936 
Germanic Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, 
Massachusetts, Josef Albers and Hubert Landau, 
November 9-30, 1936 

Katharine Kuh Gallery, Chicago, Albers and De Monda 
and the Katharine Kuh Gallery, September 20-October 
30, 1937 



New Art Circle, J.B. Neumann, New York, Josef Albers, 
March 9-30, 1938 

Artists' Gallery, New York, Josef Albers, December 6-31, 
1938. Catalogue with statements by Balcomb Greene, 
George L.K. Morris et al. 

Robert M. Coates [review], The New Yorker, December 

24, [938, p. 31 

J[ames] L[ane], Art News, December 24, 1938, p. 56 
Philadelphia Art Alliance, Prints and Watercolors by Josef 
Albers, January 24-February 12, 1939. Traveled to J.B. 
Speed Memorial Museum, Louisville, February 28-March 
19 

San Francisco Museum of Art, Oils and Woodcuts by Josef 
Albers, February 16-March 15, 1940 
Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, North Carolina, Art and 
the Artist: Paintings by Josef Albers, Lyonel Feimnger and 
Frank London, February 27-March 11, 1940 

Newcomb College School of Art, New Orleans, Josef 
Albers, June 1-30, 1940 

Nierendorf Gallery, New York, Josef Albers, February 10- 
March 1, 1941 

J[ames] L[ane], Art News, February 15-28, 1941, p. 11 

Edward Alden Jewell [review], The New York Times, 

February 16, 1941, p. 9x 

E.S. [review], PM's Weekly, February 16, 1941, p. 56 
Stendahl Art Galleries, Los Angeles, Josef Albers, March 
17-29, 1941 

Museum of Fine Arts School, Boston, Abstract Paintings 
by Josef Albers, June 1-30, 1941 

University Art Museum, University of New Mexico, 
Albuquerque, Paintings by Josef Albers, April 2.-30, 1942 
Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe, Paintings by Francesco 
de Cocco and Josef Albers, May 15-June 1, 1942 
Baltimore Museum of Art, Abstractions by Josef Albers, 
December 1, 1942-January 3, 1943 

Pierson Hall Art Gallery, University of North Carolina, 
Chapel Hill, Paintings and Watercolors by Josef Albers, 
November 1943 

New Art Circle, J.B. Neumann, New York, Josef Albers, 
January 2-17, 1945 

Hollins College, Roanoke, Virginia, Oils by Josef Albers, 
February 1946 

Memphis Academy of Arts, Tennessee, Twenty-five 
Paintings by Josef Albers, January 15-28, 1947 



California Palace of the 1 egion of Honor, San Francisco, 
Josef Albers: Oils, Lithography, Woodcuts, August 2.4- 
September 24, 1947 

Cranbrook Academy, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Josef 
Albers: Paintings, Februarj 1948 

Galerie Herbert Herrmann, Stuttgart, losef Albers, Hans 
Arp, Max Bill, July-August 1948. Catalogue with texts h\ 
Max Bill and Hans Hildebrandt 

Egan Gallery, New York, Albers: Paintings in Black, Grey, 
White, and Sidney Jams Gallery, New York, Albers: 
Paintings Titled 'Variants,' January 2.4-February 12, 1949 
[Review], Tune, January 31, 1949, p. } - 

Margaret Lowengrund, "Variations on Albers," Art 
Digest, February 1, 1949 

Clement Greenberg, "Albers Exhibition...," The 
Nation, February 19, 1949, pp. 221-222 
E[laine de] K[ooning], "Albers," Art News. vol. 4-, 
February 194'), pp. 18-19 

Galerie Rosen, Berlin, Josef Albers mid Max Bill, March 

194^ 

Cincinnati Art Museum, Josef Albers, October 27- 

November 22, 1949 



The Northeon, Easton, Penns 

November 1-50, 1949 



ma, Josef Albers. 
ber 29, 



R. McGiffert [review], Easton Express, No 

1949, p. 16 
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Paintings by Josef 
Albers, December 7, 1949-January 30, 1950 

Allen R. Hite Art Institute, University of Louisville, Josef 
Albers: 1931-1948, April 17-May 27, 1950. Catalogue 
with text by Creighton Gilbert 

Contemporary Art Society, Sydney, Australia, [95] 

Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, Albers: Homage to the 
Square-Transformation of a Scheme, January 7-26, 1952 

Arts Club lit Chicago, Albers ami Gabo, January 29- 
February 2.8, 1952 

University Fine Arts Gallery, Albuquerque, Josef Albers, 
February 1953 

1 ssex Art Association, Connecticut, Josef Albers, June 12- 
2.S, t953 

Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Josef ami Anni Albers: 
Paintings. Tapestries ami Woven Textiles. July 8-August 2, 
1953. Catalogue with text by Charles Buckle) 

Stuart Preston [review]. The New York Times. Jul) 9, 
1953) P- U-7 

San Francisco Museum of Art, Paintings bv josef Albers, 



November 4-22, 195 J 

Alfred Frankenstein, "Josef Albers Shows What Think- 
ing and Planning Will Do for Art," San Pramisei, 
Chronicle, November 22, 1953 

Academy of Art, Honolulu, Josef ami Amu Albers: 
Painting ami Weaving, July t-August 2, 1954 

Jean Chariot, "Albers' Selfless Explicit Paintings Grip 
Viewers," Honolulu Advertiser, July 6, 1954 

Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, Acting Colors: Albers, 
January 31-February 26, 1955 

Hayden Gallery, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 
Cambridge, Josef Albers, March 6-27, 1955 

Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Josef Albers— 

Paintings, Prints, Protects, April 25-June 18, 1956. 
Catalogue with text by George Heard Hamilton 

Michael Loew, "Albers: [mpersonalization in Perfect 
Form," Art News, vol. 55, April 1956, pp. 27-2.9 

"Think," Time, June iS, 1956, pp. 80-83 

J. McHale, "Josef Albers," Architectural Design, June 
1956, p. 205 

Karl-Ernst-Osthaus-Museum, Hagen, West Germany, 
Josef Albers, January 20-February 17, 1957 

[Review], Ruhr Naehricbten, January 25 and February 

16, 19 57 

[Review], Das Kunstwerk, January-February 1957, p. 



[Review], Werk ami Zeit, no. 2, 1957, pp. 2-3 

Staathche Werkkunstschule/Kunstsammlung Kassel, Josef 
Albers, May 28-June 8, 1957 

Museum der Stadt, Ulm, West Germany, Josef Albers, 
September 8-October 6, 195- 

"Zeichnungen," Werk, vol. 44, September 1957, p. 171 
Galerie Denise Rene, Paris, Albers, October-November 
1957. Catalogue with texts by Jean Arp, Will Grohmann, 
Franz Roll and the artist 

Kunstverein Freiburg nn Breisgau, Josef Albers, March 16- 
A pril 13, 1958 

Ursula Binder-Hagelstange, "Farben machen Raume," 
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, March 25, 1958, p. 7 

Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, Albers, 70th Anniversary, 
March 24-Apri] 19, 1958 

Hilton Kramer, "Recent Paintings at the Sidney Janis 
Gallery," Arts, vol. 32, April [958, pp. 52-53 

Bernard Chaet, "Color Is Magic: Interview with Josef 
Albers," Arts, vol. 32, May 1958, pp. 66-67 



298 



"Seventieth Birthday Celebrated with Show at Janis 
Gallery," Art News, vol. 57, May 1958, p. 12 

Verkehrsverein, Bottrop, West Germany, Albers, May 19- 
27, 1958 

Kunstverein Miinster-Westfalen, 1958 

Westfalisches Landesmuseum fur Kunst und Kulturge- 
schichte Munster, Josef Albers: Zur Verleihung des Conrad 
von Soest Preises, January 10-February 7, 1959. Catalogue 
with texts by Anton Henze and the artist 

Klaus Gruna, "Josef Albers erhielt den Conrad-von- 

Soest-Preis," Westfdlische Nachrichten, January 18, 

1959 

[Review], Westfalenspiegel, vol. 8, February 1959, pp. 

16-17 

Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund, West Germany, Josef 
Albers, May 12-June 21, 1959 

"Locarnese Albers-Ausstellung," Werk, vol. 46, October 

1959, P- ii9 
Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, Homage to the Square, 
November 30-December 26, 1959 

J[ames] S[chuyler] "Exhibition at the Janis Gallery," Art 
News, vol. 58, December 1959, p. 16 

"Exhibition at the Janis Gallery," Arts, vol. 34, 
December 1959, p. 56 

Galerie Suzanne Bollag, Zurich, Josef Albers, January 6- 
30, i960 

Margit Staber, "Josef Albers," Schwabische Donau- 
Zeitung (Ulm), January 14, i960 

G. Schmidt [review], Werk, vol. 47, March i960, p. 50 

Stedehjk Museum, Amsterdam, Albers, June-July 1961. 
Traveled to Gimpel Fils, London, July-August; Toninelli 
Arte Moderna, Milan, October-November; Galerie 
Charles Lienhard, Zurich, January 1962 

Lief Sjoberg, "Fragen an Josef Albers," Kunstwerk, vol. 
14, April 1961, pp. 55-59 

Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, Recent Paintings by Josef 
Albers, October 2-28, 1961 

Brian O'Doherty, "Dialectic of the Eye," The New York 
Times, October 3, 1961, p. 44 

T[homas], B. H[ess], "Homage to the Square, the 
Nude," Art Neivs, vol. 60, October 1961, pp. 26-27 

North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, Josef Albers, 
February 3 -March n, 1962. Catalogue with texts by Will 
Grohmann, Ben Williams and the artist 

Pace Gallery, Boston, Josef Albers at the Pace Gallery, 
November 5-24, 1962 



Edgar J. Driscoll, Jr., "This Week in the Art World," 
The Boston Sunday Globe, November 18, 1962, p. 60 

Museum Folkwang, Essen, Josef Albers, February 6- 
March 3, 1963. Catalogue with statements by Francois 
Bucher, Jiirgen Morschel, Margit Staber and the artist 

Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, Albers, March 4-30, 1963 
Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, The Interaction of Color and 
Paintings by Josef Albers, April 30-May 26, 1963. Traveled 
to San Francisco Museum of Art, June 3-30 

Galerie Hybler, Copenhagen, 1963 

Galerie Buren, Stockholm, Josef Albers, January-February 
1964 

Folke Edwards, "Det Elementara," Stockholms- 
Tidningen, February 1, 1964 

Wilhelm-Morgner-Haus, Soest-Westfalen, West Germany, 
Albers, February 15-March 5, 1964 

International Council, The Museum of Modern Art, New 
York (organizer), Josef Albers: Homage to the Square, 
Galleria Mendoza, Caracas, March 8-29, 1964; Centro 
de Artes y Letras, Montevideo, April 20-May 17; Institute 
Torcuato di Telia, Buenos Aires, June 9-July 5; Instituto 
de Arte Contemporanea, Lima, September 14-October 11; 
Instituto Brasil-Estados Unidos, November 5-30; Museo 
de Arte Contemporanea, Sao Paulo, December 7-25; Casa 
deCultura Ecuadoreana, Guayaquil, January 23-28, 1965; 
Ecuadorean-American Cultural Center, Quito, February 
2-14; Bi-National Center, Bogota, February 13 -March 18; 
Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Santiago, April 4-20; 
Museo Universitario de Ciencias y Arte, Universidad 
Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico City, July 8- 
August 1; Dulin Gallery of Art, Knoxville, Tennessee, 
October 15 -November 7; Huntington Galleries, West 
Virginia, November 19-December 12; The Rochester 
Memorial Art Gallery, New York, January 7-February 4, 
1966; State University College, Oswego, New York, 
February 21 -March 14; Atlanta Art Association, The High 
Museum, March 25-April 24; Marion Koogler McNay 
Art Institute, San Antonio, May 9-June 6; George Thomas 
Hunter Gallery of Art, Chattanooga, June 24-July 17; 
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, August 14-September 18; 
Madison Art Center, Wisconsin, October 3-24; Virginia 
Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, November 7-December 
4; Wichita Art Museum, January 2-22, 1967. Catalogue 
with texts by Kynaston L. McShine and the artist 

A. Otero, "Josef Albers en la Sala Mendoza," Cal 
(Caracas), vol. 29, April 18, 1964 

Juan Acha " 'El Homenaje al cuadrado' de Josef Albers," 
Cultura Peruana, October-December 1964, unpagi- 
nated 



M. Neto, "Josef Albers or Homage to Purity," Journal 
de ( ommercio Rio de Janeiro), November 8, 1964 
Sidney Jams Gallery, New York, Albas: Homage to the 
Square, September 2.8-October 24, 1964 

I iniK Genauer, " '( lleansed Perceptions' of Hopper and 
Albers," New York Herald Tribune, October 4, [964, 
p. 17 

Stuart Preston, "A Square World," The New York Times, 
October 4, 1964, p. X-21 

Galerie Gimpel & Hannover, Zurich, Josef Albers: 
Homage to the Square, June 23 -August 7, 1965. Catalogue 
with texts by Margit Staber and the artist. Traveled to 
Gimpel Fils Gallery, London, September 1 -October 2, 
[965 

The Washington Gallery of Modern Art, Washington, 
D.C., Josef Albers: The American Years, October 30- 
December 31, 1965. Catalogue with text by Gerald 
Nordland. Traveled to Isaac Delgado Museum of Art, New 
Orleans, January 2.3-February i~, 1966; San Francisco 
Museum of Art, June 2-26; Art Gallery, University of 
California, Santa Barbara, July S-September 7; Rose Art 
Museum, Brandeis Univeristy, Waltham, Massachusetts, 
September 2 3 -October 29 

"Washington: Albers and the Current Generation," 

Arts, December 1965, pp. 34-35 

Neil Welliver, "Albers on Albers" (interview), Art Neti's. 

vol. 64, January 1966, pp. 48-51, 68-69 

Alfred Frankenstein, "Homage to the Square," San 

Francisco Chronicle, May 51, 1966, p. 53 

Galeria de Arte Mexicano, Mexico City, Homenaje a Josef 
Albers, August 9-September 7, T966 

Galerie Wilbrand, Minister, Albers at Galerie Wilbrand, 
March-April [967 

Galerie Denise Rene, Paris, Albers, March-April 19'^S. 
Catalogue with texts by Jean Clay and Max Imdahl 

Guy Selz, "Deux Galeries rendent hommage au 'carre,' " 

£//(?. April 4, [968, p. 25 
Sidney Jams Gallery, New York, New Paintings by Josef 
Albers. April 10-May 4, r.968 

Westfalisches Landesmuseum fur Kunst und Kulturge- 
schichte Miinster, Albers, April 2.8-June 2, [968. 
Catalogue with texts by Will Grohmann, Jiirgen 
Wissmann and the artist. Traveled to Kunsthalle Basel, 
June 22-July 2.8; Overbeck Gesellschaft, Liibeck, West 
Germany, August iS-September 15; Badischer kunstve- 
rein, Karlsruhe, September 29-October 2.5; Rheinisches 
landesmuseum, Bonn, November 5-December 3; Villa 
Stuck, Munich; kunstverein Berlin, January [5-February 
5, [969; / Biennale, Niirnberg; Sonja Henie-Niels Onstad 



Foundation, Oslo; Kunsthalle Hamburg, January 29- 
March 1, 19-0 (catalogue with texts by Kurd Asleben, 
Dietrich Helms, Werner Hofmann and Jiirgen Wissmann); 
Kunstverein Munich 

Hannes Peuckert, "Vergcistigtes Spiel nut Form und 
Farbe," Westfalen-Blatt, April 4, [968 
Hermann Lober, "Null Punkt fur neue Ordnungen," 
Miinstersche Zeitung, April 2-, [968 

Ulrich Seelmann-Eggebert, "Der Alte Mann und das 
Quadrat," Stuttgarter Nachrichten, July 26, [968, p. 8 

Karl Strube, "Em endloses meditatives Spiel," Lubecker 
Nachrichten; August 22, 1968 

A.M., "Huldungen an ein Quadrat," Miinchner Kultur- 
berichte, December 16, [968, p. 11 

Galerie Thomas, Munich, Look at Albers, October 1969 

Artestudio Macerata, Milan, Albers, March 1970 

Stadtische Kunsthalle Diisseldorf, Josef Albers, September 
4-October 4, 1970. Catalogue with texts by Max Bill, 
Buckminster Fuller, Eugen Gomringer, Max Imdahl, 
Robert le Ricolais, Werner Spies and Jiirgen Wissmann 

Barbara Catoir, "Josef Albers' Works of Colour and 
Vexation Shown at Diisseldorf," Tbe German Tribune, 
October 1, 19-0 

Sidney Jams Gallery, New York, Paintings by Josef Albers, 

October 5-31, 1970 

Hilton Kramer, "Taeuber-Arp and Albers: Loyal Only 
to Art," The New York Times, October 18, 1970, p. D2; 

Princeton University Art Museum, Josef Albers Paintings 
and Graphics, 1915-1970, January 5-2.6, 19-1. Catalogue 
with texts by Neil A. Chassman, Hugh M. Davies, Mary 
Laura Gibbs and Sam Hunter 

Douglas Davis, "Man of a Thousand Squares," News- 
week, [anuary 18, 1971, pp. 77-78 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Josef A 'bers 
at Tbe Metropolitan Museum of Art, November 1971- 
January 11, 1972. Catalogue with text by Henry 
Geldzahler 

Werner Spies, "Nach einem Wimpernschlag: Neues, 
fremdes," Frankfurter Allgememe Zeitung, December 

31, 19-1, p. 22 

Barbara Rose, "The Return of the Image," Vogue, 
January ij, 19-2 

Mark Strand, "Principles of Paradox, Josef Albers: 
Master Illusionist at the Metropolitan," Saturday 
Review, January 29, 19-2, pp. \:-y; 

Pollock Gallery, Toronto, Josef Albers, September 28- 
October 20, 1972 



Kestner-Gesellschafr, Hannover, Josef A Ibers, January 12- 
February 11, 1975. Catalogue with statements by Wieland 
Schmied and the artist 

Rathaus der Stadt Bottrop, West Germany, Albers in 
Bottrop, March 18-April 15, 1973. Catalogue with text 
by Jiirgen Wissmann 

Galerie Beyeler, Basel, Albers, March-April 1973 

Galerie Gmurzynska, Cologne, Josef Albers, September 
12-October 25, 1973. Catalogue with texts in English and 
German by Tom Hess and Wieland Schmied 

York University, Downsview, Ontario, Homage to Josef 
Albers, October 26-November 16, 1973- Catalogue with 
text by Michael Greenwood 

Galerie Melki, Paris, Albers, November 13-December 8, 
1973. Catalogue with texts by Maxlmdahl, Karl Ruhrberg 
and Werner Spies 

The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, 
New York, Josef Albers, Leonid Burman, Mirk Tobey, 
March 14-April 30, 1977 

Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Albers, February 
22-March 26, 1978, Catalogue with texts by Gene Baro, 
Fronia Wissmann and the artist 

Galerie Christel, Stockholm, Albers-Paintings, January- 
February 1980 

Moderne Galerie, Bottrop, West Germany, Josef Albers: 
Werke aus dem Besitz der Stadt Bottrop, December 17, 
1980-February 6, 1981 

Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey, Josef Albers: His Art 
and His Influence, November 15, 1981-January 17, 1982. 
Catalogue with texts by Nicholas Fox Weber and Alan 
Shestack, and statements by several of Albers's former 
students, including Richard Anuskiewicz, William Bailey, 
Kent Bloomer, Robert Engman, Erwin Hauer, Richard 
Lytle, Stephanie Scuris, Robert Slutzky, Julian Stanczak 
and Neil Welliver 

David L. Shirey, "The Many Legacies of Josef Albers," 
The New York Times, January 10, 1982, p. XI-26 

Goethe House, New York, Josef Albers: Graphics and 
Paintings, May 3 -June 11, 1983 

Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, Paintings by Albers, 
October 4-November 3, 1984, Catalogue with text by 
Nicholas Fox Weber 

Vivien Raynor [review], The New York Times, October 
T9, 1984, p. III-30 

Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles, Josef Albers, January 
8-February 9, 19 8 5 

Suzanne Muchnic [review]. The Los Angeles Times, 
January 18, 1985, p. IV-16 



Gimpel Fils Gallery, London, Josef Albers: Homage to the 
Square, May 8-June 1, 1985 

Paul Over)', "Josef Albers," Art Monthly, no. 87, June 

1985, pp. 8-9 
Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, Works in All Media by 
Albers, February 1 -March 8, 1986. Catalogue with text 
by Kelly Feeney 

Vivien Raynor [review], The Neiv York Times, February 

28, 19S6, p. III-21 

Eric Gibson, "Josef Albers: In the Engine Room of 

Modem Art," The New Criterion, vol. 4, April 1986, 

pp. 34-41 
Satani Gallery, Tokyo, Josef Albers: Homage to the Square, 
April 4-26, 1986 

Galerie Hans Strelovv, Diisseldorf, Josef Albers: Homage 
to the Square, Bilder aus dem Nachlass, February 19- 
March 28, 1987 
Galerie Denise Rene, Paris, Albers, May 14-July 15, 1987 

Daniel Dobbels, "Albers carrement bon," Liberation, 

June 26, 1987, p. 26 

Annick Pely-Audan, "Hommage au carre: Albers ou 

l'ambiguite," Cimaise, Art Actuel, Summer 1987, pp. 

99-T00 
The American Federation of Arts, New York (organizer), 
The Photographs of Josef Albers: A Selection from the 
Collection of The Josef Albers Foundation, The Mary and 
Leigh Block Gallery, Northwestern Univetsity, Evanston, 
Illinois, June 15-August 9, 1987; Des Moines Art Center, 
August 23-October 18; Allen Memorial Art Museum, 
Obetlin College, Ohio, November 8, 1987-January 3, 
1988; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, January 
27-April 5; The Denver Art Museum, July 24-September 
iS; The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, January 8-March 
5, 1989; The Milwaukee Art Museum, March 26-May 
21. Catalogue with text by John Szarkowski 

The bibliographical and biographical sections of this 
catalogue were compiled by Kelly Feeney and Nicholas 
Fox Weber of The Josef Albers Foundation. They acknowl- 
edge the following sources in particular: 
Josef Albers, Gene Baro and Fronia Wissmann, Albers, 
exh. cat., New Haven, Yale University Art Gallery, 1978 
Irving Leonard Finkelstein, The Life and Art of Josef 
Albers (Ph.D. dissertation, New York University, 1968), 
microfilm, Ann Arbor, Michigan, University Microfilms 
International, 1979 

Neal D. Benezra, The Murals and Sculpture of Josef 
Albers, New York and London, Garland Publishing, 
Inc., Outstanding Dissertations in the Fine Arts, 1985 



Photographic Credits 



WORKS IN IHh EXHIBITION 

Coloi 

Courtesy Australian National Gallery, Canberra: cat. no. 216 

Courtesy Ernst Beyeler, Basel: cat. no. 20S 

Courtesy Mr. and Mrs. James H. Clark, Jr., Dallas: cat. no. 

63 

Ralf Cohen: cat. nos. 188, Z30, 254, 135, 143, 244 

Albert Dundler: eat. nos. 180, 210, 211, 220, 238, 245 

Ray Errett: cat. nos. 44, 55, 57, 59, 60, 62, 68 

Lynton Gardiner: cat. no. 14- 

Carmelo Guadagno: cat. nos. 125, 144, 145, 11S4, [65, 214, 

21- 

David Heald: cat. nos. 53, ^-4, 64, 215, 22^-22-, 259 

Courtesy Musee National dArt Moderne, Centre Georges 

Pompidou, Paris: cat. no. 218 

Courtesy Joseph H. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture 

Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.: cat. nos. 

42, 56, 58, [54, 15 5 

Courtesy Louisiana Museum of Modem Art, Humlebaek, 

Denmark: cat. no. 235 

Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: cat. 

nos. 40, 41 

Tim Nighswander: cat. nos. 3,43, 51, 112-118, 124, 12--129 

a,b, 139-142, 148-151, 162, 163, 166, 1-7-179, 181, 183, 185, 

186, 191- 193, 195-200, 203-205, 207, 219, 221, 222, 2.31, 

232, 2.36, 137, 241, 246 

Jeffrey Nintzel: cover, cat. no. 190 

Quality Color Laboratory: cat. no. 182 

Courtesy San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: cat. no. 138 

Courtesy Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz, 

Nationalgalene, Berlin: cat. no. 213 

Bob Sulkin: cat. no. [43 

Joseph Szaszfai: cat. nos. mo, 131, 201, 202, 201s, 221, 224 

Michael Tropea: cat. nos. 126, 184 

Courtesy Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford: cat. no. 187 

Black and white 

Courtesy Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips 

Academy, Andover, Massachusetts: cat. no. 135 

Courtesy Josef Albers Museum, Bottrop, W. Germany: cat. 

nos. 71, 72 

Hans-Joachim Bartsch: cat. nos. 48, 49A,n 

Peter Burton: cat. no. 25 

Courtesy Bauhaus-Archiv, W. Berlin: cat. no. 92 

Courtesy Mr. and Mrs. James H. Clark, [r., Dallas: cat. nos. 

65,73 ' 



Ralf Cohen: cat. nos. 146, 212 

Ray Errett: cat. nos. 71, 72, 74, 98, 99 

Lynton Gardiner: cat. nos. 7, 1-, 19-24, 30 

David Heald: cat. nos. 11-14, lfl - [ 8, 2-, 53-35, 18, ',9, <>i, 

67, 96, 9- 

Courtesy Joseph H. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture 

Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.: cat. nos. 

66, 95, [36 

Herman Kiessling: cat. no. 75 

Robert E. Mates: cat. no. 13- 

Courtesy The Museum of Modern Art, New York: cat. nos. 

Tim Nighswander: 1, 6, 8-10, 15, 28, 29, ',2, }6, 37, 45A, 
b, — , 79-83, 85-87, 91, 100, 103- in, 12}, t3ZA,B, 133, 152, 

[56- [6l, Id"- [76, 189 

John Pelverts: cat. nos. 31, 121, 122 
Photo Communications: cat. nos. 52, -8, 84, 88-90, 93 
Courtesy Prakapas Gallery, New York: cat. nos. 46, 47 
Sarah Wells: cat. nos. 101, 102 

FIGURES IN NEAL BENEZRA'S TEXT 

Courtesy The Josef Albers Foundation: figs. 1-3, 7, 8, 11, 

12, 14 

Neal Benezra: figs. 4-6 

Courtesy Kunsthaus Zurich: fig. 10 

Courtesy Pan American Airlines and Metropolitan Realty: 

fig. 9 

Reproduced from Vincent Scully, "Art and Architecture 

Building, Yale University," Architectural Review, vol. 135, 

May [964, p. 529: fig. 13 

Courtesy Harry Seidler: fig. 15 

Courtesy Stanford University: figs. 16, 17 

FIGURES IN (. HARLES E. RICKART'S TEXT 

Courtesy The Josef Albers Foundation: pp. 60, 61 

FIGURES IN NICHOLAS FOX WEBER'S TEXT 

Courtesy Anni Albers: fig. 7 

Courtesy Flammarion, Paris: fig. 5 

Courtesy Maria and Conrad Janis, Beverly Hills: fig. 12 

Courtesy Musee National dArt Moderne, Centre Georges 

Pompidou, Paris: fig. 6 

Courtesy The Museum of Modern Art, New York: figs. 8, 

13-16 

Courtesy The New Yorker Magazine, Inc.: figs. 1, 2 

Tim Nighswander: fig. 10 

Quality Color Labotatory: fig. 11 

Courtesy Staatliches Museum fur Volkerkunde, Munich: 

fig- 9 

Joseph Szaszfai: figs. ;, 4 



William A. Schrever, 
Jr., Michael F. Wettach, 



The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation 

HONORARY TRUSTEES IN PERPETUITY 

Solomon R. Guggenheim, Justin K. Thannhauser, Peggy Guggenheim 

PRESIDENT Peter Lawson-Johnston 

vice presidents The Right Honorable Earl Castle Stewart, Wendy L-J. McNeil 
trustees Elaine Dannheisser, Michel David-Weill, Carlo De Benedetti, Joseph W. Donner, Robin Chandler Duke, Robert 
M. Gardiner, John S. Hilson, Harold W McGraw, Jr., Thomas M. Messer, Denise Sa 
Bonnie Ward Simon, Seymour Slive, Peter W. Stroh, Stephen C. Swid, Rawleigh Wan 
Donald M. Wilson, William T Ylvisaker 
advisory Donald M. Blinken, Barrie M. Damson, Donald M. Feuerstein, Linda LeRoy Janklow, Seymour M. Klein, 
board Robert Meltzer, Rudolph B. Sehulhof 

secretary-treasurer Theodore G. Dunker 
director Thomas M. Messer 

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 

DEPUTY DIRECTOR Diane Waldman 
administrator William M. Jackson 
staff Vivian Endicott Barnett, Curator; Lisa Dennison, Susan B. Hirschfeld, Assistant Curators; Carol Fuerstein, 
Editor; Sonja Bay, Librarian; Ward Jackson, Archivist; Diana Murphy, Assistant Editor; Susan Hapgood, 
Curatorial Coordinator; Thomas Padon, Nina Nathan Schroeder, Denise Sarah McColgan, Curatorial Assistants 
Louise Averill Svendsen, Curator Emeritus 

Jane Rubin, Kathleen M. Hill, Associate Registrars; Saul Fuerstein, Preparator; David M. Veater, Assistant 
Preparator; William Smith, Launa Beuhler, Preparation Assistants; Hubbard Toombs, Technical Services 
Coordinator; Paul Schwartzbaum, Conservator; Gillian McMillan, Jean Rosston, Assistant Conservators; Scott 
A. Wixon, Operations Manager; Dennis Schoelerman, Assistant Operations Manager; Takayuki Amano, Head 
Carpenter; Timothy Ross, Technical Specialist; David M. Heald, Photographer; Myles Aronowitz, Assistant 
Photographer; Regina O'Brien, Photography Coordinator 

Mimi Poser, Officer for Development and Public Affairs; Carolyn Porcelli. John T Landi, Development 
Associates; Elizabeth K. Lawson, Membership Associate; Holly C. Evarts, Public Affairs Associate; Stacy Fields, 
Special Events Associate; Mildred Wolkow, Development Coordinator; Beth Rosenberg, Public Affairs Assistant; 
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life members Jean K. Benjamin, Irving Blum, Mr. and Mrs. B. Gerald Cantor, Eleanor, Countess Castle Stewart, Mr. and Mrs. 

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NSTITUTIONAL Alcoa Foundation, Atlantic Richfield Foundation, Bankers Trust Company, The Owen Cheatham Foundation, 
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Funds 



Institute of Museum Services, National Endowi 
New York State Council on the Arts 



for the Arts, National Endowment for the Hu 



EXHIBITION 88/] 

4,000 copies of this catalogue, 

designed by Malcolm Grear Designers and 

typeset by Schooley Graphics/Craftsman Type, 

have been printed by Eastern Press 

in February 19X8 for the 

Trustees of The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation 

on the occasion of the exhibition 

Josef Albers: A Retrospective. 

4,000 hardcover copies have been printed 

for Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, New York 









Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 




Bk